I had gone without
coffee or caffeine
for seventeen days
while sick in the new year.
First it was the flu,
then something awful circling my heart;
But not my heart— just around there.
It wasn’t my back that went out either,
although that didn’t help.
It was this horrible burn
in my esophagus,
from drinking scalding hot tea.
They normally served it lukewarm there;
A hazing bouquet of jasmine.
But my favorite girl with the gold highlights
and all that smiling sass— wasn’t there
the day I swallowed the blazing tea.
Anyway, it had been seventeen days
when she sat down next to me;
The lady in the red coat
holding between her two hands,
a bold, hot cup of glory.
And of course along with that
burly fragrance of coffee,
she wore stiffer perfume.
My two great weaknesses
sitting beside me on the city bus.
I bobbed my head in her direction,
breathing all of her in—
attempting to get a better look.
I imagined tasting the wooden stirring stick
while still inside her mouth,
as she wiped away the excess cream
between the closing folds of her lips;
Sipping at the nib on her coffee lid,
teasing me; I was sure of.
Her satin black hair covered all her face—
but her mouth, round and red—
breathing out the caffeinated stench of sex.
Then, I remembered what got me in this fix.
Finding something too hot to handle inside my mouth
and not spitting it out. Instead, swallowing the inferno—
and then came the burn chasing it’s tail around my heart,
like a dog gone mad with an itch it could not scratch.
So I got up and switched seats,
leaving her and the coffee behind me.
Now, I sat alone and that felt better—
no longer being tempted by either.
When the time came,
I yanked the pull cord,
took one glance back at my lady in red
and got off.
But this bus stop was just outside a coffee joint.
There had to be least half a dozen beautiful,
pale ladies gripping corrugated cup holders.
I couldn’t help myself any longer.
I grabbed one, pressed her to my mouth
and drank her down.
Seventeen days; That’s the longest I’d gone without—
since first welcoming that horrible whore into my life.
It burned a bit— my esophagus,
but it got my heart beating again
and that’s when I knew she would remain my favorite habit;
Painful and bitter, like all the rest, but worth every drip.

written on 01/25/2011 by: Matt Kane