It’s always nice to think in a coffee shop…

It’s always nice to think in a coffee shop. Nothing great has ever occurred to me while thinking in a coffee shop, but that’s not the point.

coffee shopWith everyone else so busy, so important, so serious around me, it seems fitting that I should seem at least as important and think. Sip casually (as if my coffee doesn’t matter as much as much as my thoughts, as if I could be thinking anywhere but stopped among the ordinary coffee drinkers to do my thinking). Look off into the distance, but not at anything or, heaven forbid, anyone. Pause just before setting down my cup; let it hover over the table. Now immediately type something, or if I’m feeling traditional – jot down something in an oddly shaped notebook. Yes, that’s it. Now look off into the distance at nothing in particular again (preferably in the same general direction which preceded that fantastic, world stopping thought from just a moment ago). Yes, this is the way to look like I’m thinking in a coffee shop.

Us, in a Coffee Shop
You make me wonder, as you sit quietly,
considerately across the small table from me
in the midst of our busy, loud and impersonal
coffee shop just around the corner from home;
we don’t speak and only occasionally,
accidently make eye contact interrupting
our reading – mine of a book, yours a newspaper
and you’re gracious with a small smile,
almost embarrassed by our casual connection,
returning to the worlds on our pages as we
escape the crowded space we choose to share;
our coffee’s are the same, right legs crossed over
lefts, comfortable together like we’re not
with every other person around us;
strangers don’t matter in this place right now,
like they don’t matter so many other places,
and I can tell you wish it was different
like I do, as if this place was in a Paris spring
or rainy London or beside a university campus
with smart ideas filling the air around us
like leaves falling in autumn – expected, raked
together and burned for that sweet aroma
which stings the eyes yet doesn’t drive us away;
but we’re in our cold city on this January morning
and everyone else has someplace to go
and they’re only stopping for their coffee
as they run to work because they’re late or
justĀ  have somewhere more important to be,
while we linger together, two perfect strangers
who civilly share a small table together
in an act of pure humanity, anonymously.

Steinbeck and a Pastry
As we talk about others and ourselves and others
until we start back on us again across
the small coffee shop table with the whole world
rushing past us, nibbling on a pastry we share,
what Steinbeck said about having to get all our
autobiographical material out of our system
or it will hound us until we get it said
keeps interrupting my train of thought,
and yours as well as you ask me where my head is,
and am I listening, which, of course I’m not;
but that’s because we’re only pretending
to be the authors of our lives and this dialogue
we try every day – which you’re so much better at –
seems more accurate about others than us;
and I wouldn’t have it any other way
even though it doesn’t always seem so, and,
no, I’m not going to finish the pastry.