Poets Online Talking About Coffee: Ron Slate

In “The Great Wave” you write:

I had a dream—high-water marks on the side
of my house, the aftermath of a deluge
rising from a spring in the cellar.

Too much coffee that day?

What is “too much coffee”? About “The Great Wave” — what I recall is writing some of those lines at the office while running operations for a life sciences company. Yes, cheating on the job. The coffee was very bad there so I would walk around the corner to a place that brewed some good stuff. A round trip could take 20-25 minutes. There had been a tsunami in the Pacific — I read about a guy who had been swept out to sea. Did coffee play a role in the writing? Yes, and the going to get it, too. Working at home now, I drink three or four big mugs daily with coconut sugar. Scotch-and-revision starts at 4:30pm. Which is more critical for writing — coffee or scotch? Here’s a story: Two poets went on a hunting trip. One took a quart of scotch and the other brought a jug of coffee. Both drank heartily for an hour waiting for their prey. Then, a lone duck appeared 50 feet away. Lifting up his rifle, the coffee drinker shot and missed. From further back, the liquor drinker shot and hit the bird right between the eyes. “Good shooting,” said the coffee poet. “It was nothin’,” answered his drunk friend. “With a flock like that I should have brought down 10 or 12.”


In “The Final Call” you write:

Is this the end of the world?

Not enough coffee that day?

It hurts me to think that one day all the coffee pots in our world will hurtle toward the sun and melt. The smell of burnt grounds will fill the universe. In the poem, the answer to the question is, “No, just the end/ of the language that describes it.” The idea of the end of the world, of ultimate limits, should make us slow down, but it doesn’t. Even in my new poems, I’m intrigued with this question: Is there a way to proceed without progressing? Clearly, this kind of meditating necessitates caffeine. Until my end of days, I’ll be grinding and measuring out my own fine grounds.

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