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Mark J. Mitchell

COFFEE CANTATA

For JSB.


You don’t want your coffee too sweet. You want

that crisp snap—an unknown animal’s charge

through hidden landscapes. The ghosts of mountains—large

enough for lost gods. You want steam that haunts


your glasses, darkness pulling you awake

and drowning you in mystery. And that spice

you can’t quite place—a dish a strange mother made

only once. It tasted strong—not quite nice


and not safe. Swirl your spoon. There’s a lost chance

that might rise here. That makes you want to march

to seas that don’t appear on maps. Unparched

deserts call you. It’s ritual distance.

You want coffee to lead you. What you want


today is something you can’t see—a break

of birds into an impossible sky—

a girl whose face forced a window to shake

with beauty. You recall her lost, dark eyes


and nothing else. Steam rises. Odors daunt

your vocabulary. Time to forage

for words and sip the heat. You become charged

with black purpose. Morning rises, less gaunt

than your unsweet coffee. What’s left to want?