Who knew that the child, screwing up his face
at that first sip, would find this a necessity;
the aroma suffusing mornings where a radio plays
extracts of bombing runs, gunshots outside a café
as he stands by the humming machine’s twin streams,
flicking the switch when the last drops pock the crema.
He might down it on the spot, or sit on the step to watch
sparrows dust-bathe. Often, he’ll carry the cup to the room
where he pours memories into a book, looking up to find
his reflection floating in a black sky. Maybe if all the cups
he’d drunk were stood in line they’d stretch to Ethiopia
where the kaffa plant grew among the first humans.
His heart, once as easily excited by this dark syrup
as by a lover’s touch, has grown steady, accustomed.


From  The Great Animator,  Shoestring Press, March 2017.


  1. Great poem – it expresses many of my feelings about the pleasures of good coffee and the vital part it plays in facilitating writing.


    • Thank you Chris. It is one of my favourites in the new book. I wanted to catch something about ritual (writing, coffee, routine) and the origins of our coffee, and how disturbing world events break into our privileged safe places via the news. The part where the writer looks up to find the sky is black is also an expression of how we can (if lucky) lose track of time when writing.


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