Wednesday, 12 March 2014


“I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.” - T. S. Eliot

Poetry Jam this week has asked participants to: “Write a culinary poem. Write about your favorite food, a special meal you remember, a family recipe that has been passed over the years. Your poem can be literal or metaphorical, simple or complex…”
Here is my offering:
Drinking Bitter Coffee at the Café of Broken Promises

Quite by chance, I went by the Café
Where once – a lifetime ago – we had sought
Shelter from Autumn rain.
I wandered in, half expecting to see you smiling,
Beckoning me from that same booth
That we had shared, while grey afternoon wore on,
And rain, thankfully, kept falling...
We shook the rain off our hair – I remember –
And how we laughed, as the tabletop was spread
With hundreds of diamonds: Raindrops that caught
The pale yellow light of the bare bulb above,
Shattering its puny glow into a million sunrays
That illumined richly for that moment
The deepest cellars of our souls.
We sipped the steaming coffee and it was sweet nectar,
Although we clean forgot to sugar it.
Our legs brushed under the table
And your eyes promised me a hundred happinesses;
“Tomorrow...” you had whispered and I only smiled,
My silence more eloquent than a thousand pictures...
I order coffee yet again this Spring morning
And though the sun shines brightly outside,
I am sure I can hear the drumming of rain on the tin roof.
I lose count of the lumps of sugar
I am drowning in my cup, but each sip of coffee
Is more bitter than the one before it.
I stretch my legs beneath the table
Encountering a bottomless abyss,
While from the neighbouring booth, someone laughs,
And says quite loudly: “It was yesterday!”
By chance, I find myself once again
Drinking bitter coffee in some city Café;
A tawdry, cheap, noisy, smoky place,
Where one would never go to more than once...


  1. Nick, what a powerful scene you have set here! First of all, I really like your title, as it sets up a bit what we will find within the poem. The details you share really help me visualize and FEEL the scene, and the anticipation of more and more tomorrows together is captured in the sweet coffee...with no need for sugar. And then I read the second scenario and the empty space beneath the table and many lumps of sugar added to coffee that still remains bitter. Takes my breath away really - this poem. I guess I will just say it, Nick. This is my favorite poem of all those I have read by you....and I think you should try to publish it somewhere!

  2. I like how the sweet flashback is beautifully incorporated into the shattered reality making it all the more bitter...

  3. nice...really great story telling in this...feeling that abyss beneath you as well...playing off the bitterness of the coffee...nicely played....lots of emotion done without having to tell us but letting us feel it...i like.

  4. This is excellent, Nick! You have shown us what happened that autumn very vividly, the settings, the interaction between the poet and the other, the promise, all filtered by the poet's memories of the scene. This is very cleverly contrasted with the present time. We can taste the sweetness as well as the bitterness.

  5. What a good job you do of painting these scenes--both in the past and the present. Good story telling here.

  6. Really, just a beautiful piece. An exquisite encounter reflected back upon - with longing and sadness.

  7. Wow ... there is so much good in this piece. The image of those raindrops on the glistening table top, the chemistry between the two lovers, the rude awakening of the loud voice, the melancholy of remembering, and yup the bitterness of the coffee ... wow, what a vignette you've given us!

  8. Great poem. I really like the way you have put things in context so that opposites aren't what they seem. Autumn was wonderful and Spring-like because love was alive, bitter coffee was sweet and darkness was light. Without love, Springtime sunshine was rainy, sweet coffee was bitter and the cozy cafe became a nasty place... Excellent write, bravo!

  9. So beautiful yet so sad… A love lost and the world changes. You have captured it so well!

  10. You depict such a visual scene I feel like I'm right there observing it. Beautiful in its sadness.

  11. this paints such a vibrant picture, the whole spectrum of life contained in a coffee shop. Brilliantly done,

  12. Not even the added sugar sweetens the bitterness of the life measured in coffee spoons. Liked this poem

  13. I had to read it three times. I liked it that much. Well, I could read it more even...