over coffee

Over Coffee
by carlos martinez
Here is the best of everything – you sitting in a chair
at a table in a café at the back of a bookstore where
the dust motes glide through the air as easily as wrens
and crowds bustle up and down the aisles looking for
the latest self-help books, the most recent diet guide
while you and I sip coffee and tea and eat
freshly-baked scones and the children
suburban mothers tow along behind them
make noise as their rubber-soled shoes drag across
scuffed linoleum. In front of me, the leather-bound anthology of
contemporary poetry you bought for me, my hands
resting on its front cover, which is as warm as flesh.
Your hair is so blond it sheds light, this dim corner
illumined by it and I am so much dazzled, I cast
my eyes down to where the scratched tabletop reflects it.
Wrong is what people say, those who have never sat
at a table in a café at the back of a bookstore where
rain’s driven crowds inside to browse
rows of books, where I am
a tongue-tied middle-aged man
whose gray-haired head
plays moon to yours.

0 thoughts on “over coffee

  1. Loved the idea of the poem, the living observations, and especially the ending. i don’t know if i’d have gone with couplets…maybe break lines in half of what they are and do stanzas of 4,5, or 6…just cosmetic–doesn’t make that much of a difference. In these lines, “and the children/ suburban mothers tow along behind them/ make noise as their rubber-soled shoes drag across/ scuffed linoleum.” i’d probably just go ahead and put an ‘of’ between ‘children’ and ‘suburban’ and change ‘make’ to ‘making’ for flow…but that’s just me.
    I actually know a bookstore like this. It’s rarely crowded but has so much ambience for imagination.
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. I’m not sure whether to be perplexed or fascinated or perhaps a bit repulsed by the presence of suburban moms and kids. I think that this might have something to do with the tone. The speaker seems to be fixated on the romanticism of the place but not on the place itself. The speaker observes and is yet oblivious to his surroundings.
    Also, I thought the bit about the volumne of contemporary poetry was a tad pretentious. To me there’s nothing more trite than poetry reader in a bookstore cafe. But then again, it did behave as a nice segway to the lines about the blonde.
    But overall, I think this poem was well written. It reminds me of one of my favorite bookstores in which I have a love/hate relationship with. A book store that on the one hand has been overrun by yuppies, and yet on the other hand is able to stay in business because of these very same yuppies. It’s true what the say: “Only success can fail me now.”

  3. The ‘leather-bound anthology of contemporary poetry’ isn’t a book, in my reading. I think this is a romantic poem using the bookstore experience as a metaphor for an older man and a young partner meeting early in a relationship, the older man trying to make the date out to be more than it is (self-consciously so).
    Well-written in the way it explains lonely desperation still ready to hope. After a pathetic lifetime shunning vapid masses, he can force hyperbole onto his new partner, elevating the young person to bound poetry, a risked social taboo, even the sun…thereby availing to be the moon, the keeper of living truth, a sheltering library of earned perspective…or NAMBLA.

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