Yeah I live fairly close to the hip bone of society.
At least I can feel the haute from here.
Not that this has anything to do
with what I’m about to tell you:
You see, I like my local Roast Coffeehouse, where beans
are traded fairly, well within urbane expectations.
And sue me if I go in for a bit of mid-weight port
with a beach-market Monte Cristo, or if I like
the Florentines at Duchess on 124th,
or the cappuccinos and lemon pies at Vi’s.
And yet, after all these geezly years,
I walk past some guy wearing a Mack truck toque
with a lit Players in his mouth and a steaming Tim Horton’s
and catch that acrid-ambrosial combination—
and it’s like some balm of Gilead bursts in my skull
and my face is lifted by the elixir of ancient wisdom
as Agarwood incense burns in the Temple of Dawn—
and suddenly I’m in a Steinbeck novel
reclining against a wagon wheel
watching an Oklahoma sunset while rolling a Bull Durham,
the small cloth sack dangling
from the cotton drawstring in my teeth,
the heat of the day subsiding,
and the night splitting open like a wild plum.
Or I’m in Pierre South Dakota sitting on a stone wall on Wells
and yesterday’s rain has kept us off the combines
and I have the whole aromatic morning to sit here
with some carafe-scorched coffee from the Mobil truck stop
and a pack of Winstones: "’cause a Winstone tastes good
like a cigarette should."
Or I’m at Good Spirit Lake in January sitting in
an Atco trailer after a few hours of clearing scrub poplar
with a hatchet, building camp sites for Saskatchewan Parks
and (beer-barbeque) Recreation. I’m making $1.67 an hour
and it’s ‘coffee time’ and I pop the cap off my thermos
and lean over to catch a light from the Zippo ‘Chink’ Nygren
is holding up, and I see his breath and we smoke
with our mitts on, grinning, cigarettes in our mouths
blowing smoke out of both sides, betting on whose
length of ash will fall first—like the ash that just now fell
from the cigarette of the guy in the Mack truck toque
who had been in Tim’s on 104th.
And maybe that thought I had at the start,
you know, before I started to play this mnemonica,
does have something to do with all this.
‘Cause I’m thinking, oh sure, on the outside
I might be all Starbucks and Credo and Transcend,
evolved and intolerant of high-tar-filter-tip pariahs,
but at heart, I’m still all Tim’s,
and still craving a smoke.