07.26.13
Kwame Dawes | Poetry

Coffee Break

It was Christmastime,
the balloons needed blowing,
and so in the evening
we sat together to blow
balloons and tell jokes,
and the cool air off the hills
made me think of coffee,
so I said, "Coffee would be nice,"
and he said, "Yes, coffee
would be nice," and smiled
as his thin fingers pulled
the balloons from the plastic bags;
so I went for coffee,
and it takes a few minutes
to make the coffee
and I did not know
if he wanted cow's milk
or condensed milk,
and when I came out
to ask him, he was gone,
just like that, in the time
it took me to think,
cow's milk or condensed;
the balloons sat lightly
on his still lap.


Editor's note: The puzzles in some poems are like detective stories, with every detail clearly part of the unfolding mystery. "Coffee Break" is the opposite. Its casual pleasures and worries make the existence of the mystery disarming — which is itself very much true to the kind of surprise in the poem. —Adam Plunkett

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