The year I tasted coffee

by Luke Otley

Sit and think
about the year
he said and so I did

On my back ‘gainst rough plastic and rope
and I heard the sky,
swilled it in my mouth
like fountain ink
and tried to think.

Coffee came sweet
this year,
no more bitterness-
the old tan hand Columbian
rested weighty on my shoulder
like an answer
to the same old dread
sprung like from a split hose
leaking sprinkler,
strays shocked, even cats caught unaware

but birds,
much older and much smarter–

been around for donkeys years,
been around since dino times–

fan their wings and nimbly dance
around that twinkling teasing shower,
their movements automatic
like those of mothers
who make the most

of everything-
bowls of potato peel,
pints of drained fat–
some use some where–
torrents of left-overs!

I never learned!
I realise suddenly and with a pang
of panic,veins icy,
junked up on waste
and on the nod,
watching the birds
dry
feathers fluffed,
legs folded neatly underneath
relaxed-

They knew I couldn’t catch them if I tried.