Poets Online Talking About Coffee: Reb Livingston

Why do you detest coffee?

Genetics, possibly. Both my father and my sister don’t drink it either. I consider the smell repulsive, which means I’m often repulsed on weekends when my husband makes it. He’s one of those people who are unbearable to be around until they get their coffee. Thankfully on the weekdays he waits until he gets to work. He’s a serious coffee drinker and has a fancy expresso machine which he doesn’t wipe down nearly enough so I end up having to touch coffee grinds if I don’t want them all over my kitchen. This causes ongoing grief in our (almost) 19 years of marriage. But I suppose it’s not all bad, he re-uses his coffee grounds to make fire starters for our wood stove and I do appreciate that.

But doesn’t that mean that your fire smells like coffee?

Good question. It’s a wood stove, so there’s a door so I don’t really smell the fire. Also, the fire starters are fairly small and burn up quickly. I was more grossed out when he and my son were making them. They filled ice cube trays with the grounds and wax and left them out on the porch for weeks.

Did these coffee fire starters inspire Bombyonder in any way?

I believe the coffee fire starters came after I wrote the bulk of Bombyonder. I was about to say that coffee has no place in Bombyonder, but after a quick search I realize that is not correct. Coffee makes three appearances in the book:

“There was an essay on SELF RELIANCE on my coffee table that I wanted to roll up into a tight wand to practice on him.”

“You never know, while in the café sipping an iced latte, you could see a bona fide astronaut order his coffee black.”

“I keep yelling occupied until Rauan understands and stops banging on the stall, he could climb out, he could climb over and jump down into his dangerous neighbourhood to be eaten by alligators, he could climb the ladder and lose his breath, he could climb to the next level but oh he says it’s too difficult, he could climb out the window, he throws my coffee cup at the window, he could climb up the staircase and panic if it were not for these tricky walls, he could climb outside but that’s difficult and scary too.”

So the unnamed protagonist in Bombyonder is a coffee drinker after all. I hadn’t given it much thought before, but she is an American, so it makes sense that I would have unconsciously done that. Practically every asshole in this country drinks coffee and the protagonist is a major asshole. Although in the book the term “assbeast” is used because it’s more powerful. Except in the one case that mentioned a literal asshole, in that instance asshole remained asshole:

“When I get out of this box
I’m going to chew out your
asshole like it’s Bubblicious.

Let’s open a coffee shop called Assbeast.

Ok. We could specialize in coffee made from beans pooped out by animals.

How much will we charge per drink?

Since the coffee shop is clearly an homage to Bombyonder, I say we should adhere to a strict, literal interpretation:

“a cup of Kid Rock’s semen costs a pretty poem”

Bawitdada, innit.

I hope this isn’t too personal to share, but I did once have a dream of woman collecting Kid Rock’s sperm in a cup. Talk about an American Eucharist! I had forgotten it when I woke, but later that day I was driving when one of his songs came on the radio (All Summer Long?) and suddenly I had a flashback to the dream. Damn near wrecked my car.

Are you kidding me? Are you KIDDING ME? I had a dream that No Tell Books published a collection of Kid Rock’s lyrics, but it had to be pulped because you were sued for using the Confederate flag on the cover. In my dream the Confederate flag was under copyright.

Thank god for the court system. That would have been a close one! When No Tell Books was up and running, we had a few book covers dramas. It got back to me that then-NEA director, Dana Gioia, hated the cover on Jill Alexander Essbaum’s book, Harlot. I have no idea why. It was a perfectly lovely illustration of a naked woman hugging giant phallus. I thought doods loved that stuff.

I have to go brew some tea. Speak about coffee again soon?

Sure, I would love to, but I must confess that I suspect that your intention might be to drag me through a long, arduous game of Terror in a Teapot. All this talk of my associations to coffee and Kid Rock has been a traumatizing experience. What kind of Freud-infused Teahouse did I walk into?

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