" Coffee "

The only precious thing I own, this little espresso
cup. And in it a dark roast all the way
from Honduras, Guatemala, Ethiopia
where coffee was born in the 9th century
getting goat herders high, spinning like dervishes, the white blooms
cresting out of the evergreen plant, Ethiopia
where I almost lived for a moment but
then the rebels surrounded the Capital
so I stayed home. I stayed home and drank
coffee and listened to the radio
and heard how they were getting along. I would walk
down Everett Street, near the hospital
where my brother was bound
to this white bed like a human mast, where he was
getting his mind right and learning
not to hurt himself. I would walk by and be afraid  and smell
the beans being roasted inside the garage
of an old warehouse. It smelled like burnt
toast! It was everywhere in the trees. I couldn't
bear to see him. Sometimes
he would call. He wanted us
to sit across from each other, some coffee between us,
sober. Coffee can taste like grapefruit
or caramel, like tobacco, strawberry,
cinnamon, the oils being pushed
out of the grounds and floating to the top of a French Press,
the expensive kind I get
in the mail, the mailman with a pound of Sumatra
under his arm, ringing my doorbell,
walking me up from a night when all I had was tea
and watched a movie about the Queen of England when Spain was hot
for all her castles and all their ships, carved out
of fine Spanish trees, went up in flames
while back home Spaniards were growing potatoes
and coffee was making its careful way
along a giant whip
from Africa to Europe
where cafes would become famous
and people would eventually sit with their cappuccinos, the baristas
talking about the new war, a cup of sugar
on the table, a curled piece of lemon rind. A beret
on someone's head, a scarf
around their neck. A bomb in a suitcase
left beneath a small table. Right now
I'm sitting near a hospital where psychotropics are being
carried down the hall in a pink cup,
where someone is lying there and he doesn't know who
he is. I' listening
to the couple next to me
talk about their cars. I have no idea
how I got here. The world stops at the window
while I take my little spoon and slowly swirl the cream around the lip
of the cup. Once, I had a brother
who used to sit and drink his coffee black, smoke
his cigarettes and be quiet for a moment
before his brain turned its armadas against him, wanting to burn down
his cities and villages, before grief
became his capital with its one loyal flag and his face,
perhaps only his beautiful left eye, shimmered on the surface of his Americano
like a dark star.

Dickman, Matthew. The Best American Poetry. New York: Scribner Poetry, 2011, pp 23 - 24.