by Job Conger
written 10:58 am, November 19, 2009
The coffee shop is not a playing field;
it is a stadium for ones and twos,
and our table of six,
watching the unfolding of
the explicit rationale
of those who have decided
to be where they are.
Everyone’s focused on books except
the chatty 22-year-old at the next table
on a cell phone,
tempering his voice
like a library supervisor
talking to a clerk at the checkout desk
when patrons are watching.
The polite decorum prevails:
fog over a harbor for
beverage imbibers and conversationalists
tempered, table-tennis lobs of words
to extend the volleys: forward- focused explorations
of truths on pages, topped with caffeine,
hot chocolate with sweet whipped cream.
I write this during a 20-minute writing prompt at the November meeting of Poetry Parnassus in Springfield, Illinois. I’ve revised it a little since the first draft which I read to those gathered at the tables. What seems obvious to the six of us present as things happened is not so obvious to those who weren’t present November 19. I considered that when revising for readers who weren’t there. It made a better poem. The dichotomy of individuals playing individual “games” in a collective assembly of individuals and couples and our joined two tables of six hit me at first glance. There’s no common game played; it’s a stadium of many minds in motion . . . . and a wonderful place to be. Harmony of intent could have almost been sung.
Live long . . . . . and proper.