A café, a beer, a cigarette, a pen and napkin
and I create the perfect stereotype penned
this decade, but it’s my always life. The cigarettes
chain themselves during my introspection chased by beer,
which hardly explains why for endless hours, I
sit alone at a four-person table in the café.
I blame it on the anomalous ambiance of a Brazilian café
in Iowa—or possibly on the plethora of napkins
littering the bar and tabletops. Regardless, I
always resume the search for a working pen
before nursing my first imported bitter beer
of the night and lighting the mentholating cigarette.
The hypnotic mood is timed with the inhale of the cigarette.
The smoke diffuses to the draped corners of the café,
and collects in momentary clouds above the beer
glasses. It permeates the hair & clothes, napkins
& cloths; it encloaks the sugars, salts and idle pens,
and tickles & stings the nostrils and glassy eyes.
My hazy thoughts are tussled by the ceiling fan while I
fumble for the asher to drop peppered dust from the cigarette
sprinkling the tabletop on the way. I finger the pen
and watch the universe dissolve into the café.
The very air condenses beading droplets on the napkin
and releasing the golden bubbles rising from the beer.
Some calming truth derives from each swallow of beer.
It is I, who writes order from verbal chaos; and I
who creates shreds from every finely pressed napkin.
My control radiates concentrically from each tap on the cigarette
and extends in its expanding arcs to the walls of the café.
The echo buzzes and vibrates the awakening pen.
From amid the doubts and tears, my confused eyes open
to see well beyond the lethargic blur from the beer.
They pierce the dim air and see the radiant aura of the café
outlining & explaining the occupants within. The observing eye
understands the masked wrinkles and the nervous fingering of cigarettes.
It senses the voluminous exhale and the textured landscape of the napkin.
It is only now that I can account for this Bailey’s Café.
With an empty glass of beer and a final drag on the cigarette,
I allow the timid pen to mar poetry on the fresh napkin.
[Check out other original poems here.]