CHRIS RICE COOPER is a newspaper writer, feature stories writer, poet, fiction writer, photographer, and painter. She maintains a blog at www.chrisricecooper.blogspot.com. She has a Bachelor's in Criminal Justice and completed all of her poetry and fiction workshops required for her Master’s in Creative Writing with a focus on poetry. She, her husband Wayne, sons Nicholas and Caleb, cats Nation and Alaska reside in the St. Louis area.
Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
51 Poets on DARK AS A HAZEL EYE Coffee & Chocolate Poems . . .
Co-EditorsEllen Foos, Vasiliki Katsarou, and Lynne Shapiro were intrigued by
the iconic status of chocolate and coffee that they decided to solicit poems
about the two foods.
result is the anthology Dark As A Hazel Eye: Coffee & Chocolate Poems, 51 poems by 51 poets
from across the globe separated into six categories: Buzz, Craving, Bliss, Bitter, Ritual, and Afterlife.
The poets tell of their
experience of eating chocolate and drinking coffee and how these two foods/drinks
affected his/her life in numerous ways – spiritually, sexually, politically,
There is a legend that
coffee was discovered in 300 AD by an Ethiopian goat herder named Kaldi.Kaldi noticed that his herd of goats was
eating red and green coffee berries from a bush.Suddenly the goals became full of energy and
ecstatic.Kaldi then tried the beans and
noticed immediate alertness.He shared his
discovery of the coffee beans with the village and the word spread.
from the mountainous region of northern Ethiopia learned of the coffee berry
and consumed it and found that it gave them the ability to pray and meditate
longer.Soon the use of coffee berries
was more than just for physical consumption but a spiritual necessity.
Muhammad in Paradise offering a fellow Muslim who just died a drink.
Haiku” by Theresa Sellers
seems fitting that the first poem we discuss in this piece is the “Coffee Haiku”
since both the haiku and the coffee were so essential to the Buddhist monks
back then and even today.
the first stanza, coffee is the potion that gives the monks the power and the
ability to prophecy.
Coffee, dark, and strong
Or Muddy land prophetic Or
dressed like a monk.
The fourth stanza of the
haiku reveals that the monks are living in a time of spiritual warfare – the
battle of good versus evil.
Caution contents hot
I read on my coffee lid
sipped sweet danger.
In the fifth and final
stanza, the monk consumes the coffee and it is only then he is able to conquer
and, finally, rest.
Like a lionessDragging her kill, I drag myCoffee
back to bed.
Bliss” by Carol Buckley
“Coffee Bliss” the weight of coffee is spiritually perfect enough for the Sufi
monks to have its first taste, and it is through this first taste the monks obtain
a higher spiritual state of being.
set down their cups and twirled
with each turn,
by Elizabeth Danson
In “Enticed,” drinking
coffee can be a way of experiencing spiritual ritual or eroticism/sexual
The dark liquid pour, the harsh hit to the palate,
The way the contents of the cup
initiate a pond-
Clear on top,
deepening to sediment at the bottom,
And the decision about just how far down to go.
Need” by Rosemary Wright
“What you Need” coffee becomes a jolt of sexual attraction it the form of Sean
Connery in Thunderball and Lena Horne
in her hit song, “The Man I love.”
by Carlos Hernandez-Pena
“Bitter Sweet” the chocolate itself becomes the object of fantasy - a sexual
human being clothed in chocolate, ripe for the eating, or the copulating:
Today I caught a glimpse
of your figure in black attire-
blood surged out of rhythm
I mumbled and drowned words
This stolen image of you
you still exist
inside the sixth day
of the lunar fortnight
a dark chocolate fantasy.
Game” by Maxine Susman
and sexual become combined in the “A Tasting Game”, which conveys a family gathering,
or lovers, playing a game of tasting the same chocolate, as if in communion.The
chocolates consumed are described as “assorted miracles” in a white box.
If you go first, choose one.Memory
will lead you,
or impulse or careful deliberation,
or just close your eyes and lift
and nibble on its edge.A tiny bite, merely
enough to taste its flavor
on your tongue.
you remember this, or is it new?
Just like in communion, as in sexual activity, each
person present is given the opportunity to partake
truffles teach you concentration.Foreplay.
That you and someone else
can want the same thing,
want it equally.That many flavors
However in the last stanza both sexual
experience and even religious experience does not gratify – and the poem ends
in a fantasy – something that can never come into being.
if you forfeit one, another tastes delicious
That triumphs and
concessions stay sweet when small.
to make something last that isn’t meant to last.
“A Cup of Joe” by Chris Bullard
justice or lack thereof is presented in the heart wrenching “A Cup Of Joe” about
a veteran who orders a regular cup of coffee only to get a “plain” cup of
coffee” which causes him to debate with the manager about what regular and
plain mean.Amidst this conversation the
speaker of the poem has a flashback or memory of how unimportant words are compared
I remember all
those brown bodies we left lying beside the
road rotting with their
odor.It’s only because I know that what
we did was right
that I can’t put
them from my mind.So, I smiled and
pretended I was
let me out, I went home and brewed myself
some coffee.I poured it into my Airborne mug and watched
rising from the liquid that was as black as the nights back in the
Middle East.It was so black I almost expected to see the
stars in it.
No One Would Care” by J. Gerard Chalmers
are so many interpretations that could be inferred in “I Thought No One Would
Care.”It could be about a girl being a
victim of genocidal rape; poverty; neglect; boredom; religious hypocrisy;
anything I have not mentioned; or all of the above.
We can assume the little girl is Jewish since she mentions her Hanukkah doll.We know she fears the mice, but who are the
mice?Are they literally small animals
she fears will nibble her chocolate away?Or are they symbolic of something more sinister?
Does this little girl
want to become invisible so she can eat her forbidden piece of chocolate?Or is she trying to create a fantasy world so
she won’t have to face her reality?
I thought no one would care
if I became a girl so thin I
could hide in the silence
of the vestibule
be invisible, while they
cut tender meat.Buttered fresh bread.
by Tomas Transtromer
last two lines of the last poem in the collection “Espresso” tell the reader
two things that coffee enables us to do – to never give up, and have the courage
to face reality, something we need to adhere to during these dark days.
That give us a healthy push!Go!
The courage to open our eyes
***Painting "Portrait of a Girl" b y Nikolai Efimovich Rachkov in 1869