Friday, 25 April 2014

These Old Cafés

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. 


  1. This is really lovely. I love the second stanza in particular -- I was going to pick out a line or two to cite, but the whole stanza is terrific.

  2. Thanks Rachel. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

  3. I love the ending. This is awesome. Aren't we all lucky NaPoWriMo exists?!

  4. Thanks, Rosie! Yes, we are lucky. This is such a great opportunity to dive into the realm of poetry, and the NaPoWriMo site is so well done, inspirational, and encouraging, all at the same time!