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KitchenYour mother wants to know
if you've had anything for breakfast
and the way she talks splits through you
like an axe in a melon, nervous
like she's talking to a man with blood
that stains his teeth. And the kettle sings,
too loud, that ugly old whee-oh-whee
that makes you feel like a poet or a
native, nervous wreck, a girl dragging
her toes and drawling
as she snaps a cat's
neck. She asks you again, more
impatient this time because you are
the kind of person that is hard
to put up with, the kind of person
that never begins to listen, and there is
a beating heart sewn into the back of
your head where your hair meets
like a cleaved moon in the middle.
The stitches hurt and the room is
frightening and sad as you pick
yourself free with your nails,
wishing the pulse would give out.
PromiseOne day darling,
I'll paint you a picture
of the house you'll grow old
in, with flowers that grow
from its ears, a bright warrior
brave arriving at the front
door beating her chest.
We'll pour the sad
away, fill the space with
baby-songs and pot roasts, thoughts
of old loves in Cuba,
sleepy hands that smoothe away
the cracks in Paradise. Angel,
let me paint in your life,
the hazel stretch between
today and tomorrow
and the colours will run together
madly, make you swallow your cries
The Coffee GodThe Coffee God behind the counter shuffles foot to foot, a dance of steam and espresso. Black painted fingernails, inch gauged ears and a gray striped sweatshirt, hood crooked on his back. There's a cigarette tucked behind one ear; it bobs and twitches with each step.
“Non-fat caramel latte,” he calls, just as he always does, part of a spell, part of a mantra, toneless (just a tuck at the end). I reach. He looks up.
The espresso maker hisses.
There's something like a grin, something like a spark, something like a shared secret linked eye to eye. When he passes over the drink (rough cardboard sleeve hot to the touch), he lingers. Our fingers brush, a shiver, a jolt, a ten-watt shock.
The Coffee God tilts his chin, shouts, “Hey, mind if I take my break now?”
and ducks around the counter without waiting for a reply.
He slips his cigarette between his lips without taking his eyes from mine. I follow him out the door.
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