Ellen Foos, Vasiliki Katsarou, and Lynne Shapiro, editors, “Dark as a Hazel Eye: Coffee & Chocolate Poems,” Ragged Sky Press, www.raggedsky.com.
This collection of 52 poems features works by both emerging and established poets, including 2011 Nobel Prize winner Tomas Transtromer — all in some way touching on the subjects of coffee or chocolate.
Ragged Sky Press is the imprint of Ellen Foos, who is also an editor at the Princeton University Press. The title of this anthology comes from a collection of letters published in 1862 by Henry Ward Beecher, a social reformer and brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe: “a cup of coffee — real coffee — .. . that comes to you hark as a hazel-eye . . . is a match for twenty blue devils and will exorcise them all.” Two selections appear below.
of My Name
by Jody Struve
my mother closed her eyes
and whispered names until
she felt dirt falling
from a hand
falling from a strong hand
and when she whispered once more
the calloused hand plunged again
into the soft earth of a sun filled field
I sit in the small world coffee shop and think
each shout for a cup of “joe to go”
is the beginning of my name.
the first syllable of love.
it has nothing to do with lonely.
it is not because my need for touch has moved
as deep as the sweet caress of the inner ear.
it is because of the steady rhythm
that I look up
turn my head each time to see
who is calling,
who might have come.
Jody Struve works for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. She received her BA, summa cum laude, from Rider College. Born in Chicago, she and her wife, Erinn Auletta, a middle school teacher, live in Lambertville with their two young children.
What you Need
by Rosemary Wright
When you wake up in the morning,
your head a deck of cards scattered on the floor,
you need coffee.
You need fragrant coffee.
So fragrant you float on scent,
ancient and ethereal,
frankincense from Babylonian rites.
the smell of mud on a sunny day in early spring.
You need strong coffee.
Strong like a body builder,
a squad of Marines fresh from boot camp.
Strong like the mother
lifting a car to free her child.
You need hot coffee.
Not too hot like Icelandic lava.
You need coffee hot like Sean Connery in
or Lena Horne singing “The Man I love.”
You need black coffee.
Black like tar from prehistoric pits
when mastodons still roamed.
Black like shadows cast by trees
in moonlight on a mountaintop at midnight.
You need rich coffee.
Smooth and rich,
Bavarian vanilla cream pie.
You need bitter coffee.
Not bitter like tears you shed
for the Valentine that never came.
No, not that bitter.
You need coffee bitter like a dab of truth
which hurts for a moment then sets you free.
You need coffee now.
Inhale. Exhale. Sip.
Feel fireflies buzzing through your veins,
the sun rising over Kilimanjaro,
the earth spinning.
Rosemary O’Neil Wright, a professional storyteller as well as a poet, is a member of the Garden State Storytellers League and the New Jersey Storytelling Network. A graduate of Stanford University with a masters in education, Wright taught high school mathematics for 20 years. She is now enrolled in Monmouth University’s masters program in creative writing.