The world without coffee

(a rather loosely-informed sestina on my second-favourite vice)

According to my newspaper the time
Of greatest flowering in European cultural life
Coincided with the advent of the coffee
House in cities like Vienna. Poets lost love,
Philosophers thought deeply, Shrinks shrank, and great new
Symphonies soared above the pervading creative buzz.

Surely it was not always so. The buzz
More generally heard before that time
Was the gentle snore of citizens tanked up on new
Wine or local ale. Such widespread alcohol slowed life
To a crawl beyond mid-morning, for who does not love
To lie down when half drunk anyway? Imagine, then, coffee,

On its introduction from the east. A single cup of coffee
Could rouse a person with its distinctive buzz
To new heights of creativity. Quite soon, the love
Affair with this dark stranger from the shores that time
Forgot had spread from cup to saucer, transforming life
For the noveau-jazzed across the continent. The New

World, similarly, benefitted from the new
Caffeinated order. The Thirteen Colonies made coffee
A staple to accompany the westward spread of white-faced life
Swarming native land like a great cloud of queenless bees, their buzz
Stinging like a pickaxe blow in railroads and then in factories, where time
Triumphed over human scale, and simple love

Disintegrated into commerce. The love
Of money, wide-eyed, unblinking, brought a new
And harsh reality to bear – a far cry from the time
When agriculture and its rhythms reigned. Now coffee
Represented all that served to amplify avarice, that buzz-
Cut every wayward tree, and scythed through individual life.

It seems there is a rule in life
That we must pay the price for all we love,
And surely we have paid in full for the buzz
First tasted many centuries ago. Those pioneers knew
Not what they were playing with, and their coffee
Dalliance has robbed us all of a simpler time.

But then again, with the buzz of life I get each time I grab a venti toffee nut caramel white mocha frappuccino double blended with no whip cream and extra caramel drizzle, my love for this beautiful drug is brewed anew – The world would be so much less poetic without coffee.


About Andrew Kreider

I'm a poet and musician,transplanted from London, England to beautiful northern Indiana. By day I am a stay-at-home dad with our three kids while my amazingly talented spouse conquers medical school one long shift at a time. At night, I'm a performer and trouble-maker. I love my life.

2 responses »

  1. I do love my coffee, and I find that my poetry goes into strange modes during periods of caffeine deprivation. I'll take mine black, by the way.

  2. OH, Andrew, I live for coffee, no kidding. Cannot talk before my first cup… that last line sounded like something I'd come up with. Love those kicked-out, free association, run-on loop-de-loos! Thanks, Amy


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