My friend Dennis Kirschbaum, whose work has been shared here before, wrote an erudite essay on choosing work that fits your life and who you are (or want to be). I shared it on Facebook with some friends who have in turn shared it with their friends and young adult children. I hope you will share myLife 2.0.
Two years ago my friend (and poet) Dennis Kirschbaum opened my eyes to Poem in Your Pocket Day (His piece “The Useless Machine” is brilliant). Dennis was kind enough to give me a poem about coffee to have that day, which I have kept with me since then (I confess to making a note once on the back of the folded paper).
This year I invited friends who know and love poetry to share a favorite poem with me in anticipation of Poem in Your Pocket Day. I’ll be posting their choices here.
I’m beginning with Dennis and a poem he wrote.
Blessing for Coffee
Dennis M Kirschbaum
Make the sun shine on leaves and let their roots
drink rain. Strengthen arms and backs to pick
the cherries and wash away flesh to reveal seeds.
Steady ships on the inscrutable sea carrying them
green and raw in burlap to arrive in New York,
L.A. and where the Mississippi empties.
Give wisdom to the roaster bringing heat,
revealing character neither pallid grass nor
so burnt that the surface bleeds pungent oil.
Guide the barista’s tattooed hands as he grinds
fourteen perfect grams into the yawning mouth
of his portafilter and fits it to the group head,
an offering of gifts at the stainless altar. Hold fast
the laws of physics, scramble electrons, build heat,
pressure, force steam through puck into ceramic.
Grant through fortune and the labor of my hands,
spare custom to bestow for this crema capped,
dark measure. Now, while this brain is becalmed
in haze, help me recall the miracles that delivered this
to my lips and let me be worthy of it as it fills me.
Dennis M. Kirschbaum grew up in Baltimore. He has a B.A. in English from Guilford College and an M.A. in Jewish Philosophy from Baltimore Hebrew University. He is an Associate Vice President at Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life and an Adirondack 46er, having climbed to the summit of the highest mountains in New York State. His chapbook, Clattering East is available from Finishing Line Press and on Amazon. He lives and writes in Washington Grove, Md.
addition: Dennis is also featured at Author Amok today.
Today Dennis’s work is featured on Laura Shovan’s blog Author Amok. As always, Dennis packs big ideas into a small space. I laughed out loud more than once. You will too.
As part of National Poetry Month, today is Poem in Your Pocket Day. I like poetry but am guilty of not paying a lot of attention to it. I have had several “driveway moments” waiting for the poem on Garrison Keillor’s “The Writer’s Almanac” and yet it never occurs to me to look for poetry as some of my friends do.
I asked my old friend Dennis Kirschbaum, who staffed The Metaphor Hotline at Guilford, for a poem about coffee (which Dennis loves at least as much as a good metaphor). He didn’t send me one of his own poems, but what he did send is very good, almost as good as his own work.
In Praise of Joe
by Marcy Piercy
I love you hot
I love you iced and in a pinch
I will even consume you tepid.
Dark brown as wet bark of an apple tree,
dark as the waters flowing out of a spooky swamp
rich with tannin and smelling of thick life—
but you have your own scent that even
rising as steam kicks my brain into gear.
I drink you rancid out of vending machines,
I drink you at coffee bars for $6 a hit,
I drink you dribbling down my chin from a thermos
in cars, in stadiums, on the moonwashed beach.
Mornings you go off in my mouth like an electric
siren, radiating to my fingertips and toes.
You rattle my spine and buzz in my brain.
Whether latte, cappuccino, black or Greek
you keep me cooking, you keep me on line.
Without you, I would never get out of bed
but spend my life pressing the snooze
button. I would creep through wan days
in the form of a large shiny slug.
You waken in me the gift of speech when I
am dumb as a rock buried in damp earth.
It is you who make me human every dawn.
All my books are written with your ink.