“Self as Coffee Shop”

I ask to speak with the manager, but he’s on his break. The baristas keep giving me tea with not enough water. They have big tits, so I forgive them at first. But the ratio of water to tea, fullness to flesh can only suppress so much thirst. The regulars come in and sit in their usual seats. If their spot is occupied, they reluctantly move because a man’s comfort is his accustomed confines. I became sad when my favorite barista moved to Portland. I never pried into the status of his homelife, his wife and daughter and him being gay. But I miss the genuine way he greeted me and the quality of his drinks. Newspapers hang in front of faces concealing suburban identities. Fingertips sting laptops like a distressed hive. I feel a sharp pain in my side and it’s a reminder that my own marriage is also a sham. A nudging gut check intended to note that the owner is no better than the employee. We sit at the kitchen table, sip our coffee, and tell the kids we love them. They don’t know that background jazz in coffeeshops is both an escape and lament, that a decent cup is not possible without the equal marriage of percolation and maceration, that their parents’ bed is merely a place to separately rest our heavy heads. I check back in and learn that the manager has taken a permanent fifteen. The store becomes short-handed; I strap on an apron and get behind the counter. I draw hearts on customers’ cups, smile, fill them to the fucking brim.

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About Daniel Romo

Daniel Romo is the author of When Kerosene’s Involved (Mojave River Press, 2014) and Romancing Gravity (Silver Birch Press, 2013). He is the Co-founder/Editor at Wherewithal and Head Poetry Editor at Cease, Cows. He teaches creative writing and lives in Long Beach, CA. More at danielromo.net.