Posted in Before the Rain

Coffee Brake

The photographic recall of an expert,
the zoologist able to name tax, species, genus
an art historian, masters, periods, schools,
a mathematician multiple sequences of Pi.

Shirley, tea lady in excelsis
assigned every staff member an individual cup
 earthy – clay spun, by local artists
and remembered all preferences : coffee + (milk – sugar).
Tea time queue
cups laid out like a street vendor
cheerful greeting – pour and mix – she never forgot. “Next please.”

A joint project with a university down south –
brains and muscle –
they have the ideas, we do the field work.
Pre Internet,
no Skype or video conferring
long-distance phone fiscally frightening.
I will take the work to them – and report findings.
five days away,
part golden opportunity – dead man walking – out of sight, out of mind
part gold watch – seven days per diem and travel.

On return
at morning break my cup is missing,
Shirley briefly, uncharacteristically blank
flurried awkwardness
a computer about to crash
before screen saver of inattention takes the rap                                        
“silly me,” she rushed
“I thought …..
…. …. I thought ….. you were ….. away.”



Most of my life has been spent on the bench, occasionally called into the game by extravagance or attenuation. Waiting has turned a loner into a recorder - nondescript and inconsequential, more not noticed than overlooked - the non-vantage point of children not yet considered old enough to understand. Orphaned Islands (Un)poetry is a lifetime of picking anecdotes up and not throwing them away. Stories collected like odds and ends placed in a box in the basement, the garage, the garden shed - uncertain as to what their use might be but knowing that one day there might be one.