Not the smart redecorated ones
with mobile phone top-ups
and take-home mugs.
The archaic ones
with walls that flake and puff
where strange folk sit and pick
their nails with toothpicks, coins,
the corners of matchbooks.
A book of matches. A book of fire.
A book of all the things that burn
before your eyes
and in that end regain their dignity
like a viking warlord aflame in his boat
pushed out to sea
lighting the night with his memory
held in the minds of men
who will drink long horns of ale to him
and sing the ancient songs.
In these cafés there are such things;
books of matches
books of the stories that cannot exist
anywhere else in this world.
Men who are not yet old
prop themselves on the crumbling chair.
A newspaper rests on the table
but these men don’t read;
they are busy with something else,
some invisible work that eats up all their time.
You wanted a take-away coffee
but you have come to the wrong place.
You have entered with too much speed.
Your voice sounds too loud
and disturbs the thick air.
You realise it only once the words
have left your mouth.
This place doesn’t do take-away.
It may take a while for any drink to come at all.