Starbucks, have you any coffee for me,
can’t you see I am very sleepy,
won’t you tell me where a barista might be,
is there a cappuccino and a table,
an umbrella, and a seat?
Starbucks, can I sit outside your door,
on the sidewalk with a napkin and pen,
writing my poem that no one will read,
doodling my time away
to an ambiguous ending.
And when the barista comes out,
asking me if I’d like some frothy whipped cream,
wonderful cream like the fall of moonlight,
the garden lanterns are lit,
while a gypsy jazz trio plays
dans les nuages.
Starbucks, I don’t know if you have what I need,
a lonely table under a carob tree,
where I’ll sit and sip a cold coffee,
my heart squeezed through a napkin ring,
wishing for skylark wings to fly away and sing.
(“Skylark” is a 1942 jazz standard song, lyrics by Johnny Mercer, music by Hoagy Carmichael.)
They line the streets, sitting out at sidewalk cafes, watching the passersby, angling for what they might catch. Patiently they wait, nursing a coffee through a first frost morning, almost napping off over a warm afternoon beer, coming back in the evening for a smooth glass of purple pinot noir or a shot of postprandial espresso. The burbling, gurgling, murmuring river of cars drifts along, punctuated by busses and trucks, bicycles, pedestrians crossing, a cop on a Harley, a delivery truck snagged on a rock, three buskers in an open boat. The anglers move along too, changing spots, carrying their birdcages of verbs, baskets of nouns, hooks and swivels and spinners tucked in their tackle box notebooks. And I move upriver, looking for a new hole, so hungry I will not catch and release a cliche, but will pick out its bones and pan-fry the fillet in butterfat in a cast iron skillet.
Over at Miriam’s Well, an invitation to a haiku. And why not? As it happened, I was working on a post of pics that lacked captions, not that they needed any, but a bit of word garnish on a gallery augments the gadzooks. The haiku, posted on Miriam’s site, came in walking stride:
a long old side walk
a child’s pastel chalk drawing
blue orange bird feathers
The artist’s hand.
Shaping the chalk.
Large green chalk.
Scooping mounds of chalk dust.
Feathers of color.
Little mounds of chalk dust give the feathers a personality.
A floating foot bridge of feathers.
Blending the feathers.
Swish, swash, swoosh.
Pastel chalk angel.
End of Sidewalk Chalk Performance.
Oh blue bird’s posit
bald caw clears scald orange glory
down green wave evening.
Oh quick bird’s message
clear and cold sweet morning wake
again post evening.
Oh to be a bird
who sings each morning sunup
and feathers sundown.
Oh drifted droop bird
lands on hand chalk covered walk
feather dust bath wash.
Oh rabbit molt moon
rises on sun’s dwilting back
enough for one day.
Oh quiet streetlamp moon
paper birds rise up to you
words fall to sidewalk.
Oh artist angel
dance brushes painterly dust
sidewalk chalk drawing.
And don’t forget to check out Miriam’s Well.
Past posts drop farther and farther down the vertical ramp of the blog, disappearing like sidewalk chalk drawings. One critic walks around the drawing, viewing it carefully, as if visiting a gallery or museum, another walks over it, disgusted with art. The sidewalk artist moves up to a clear space of concrete, or draws over yesterday’s washed out drawing, unconcerned that masterpiece is today jettisoned artwork.
During the day, the drawing grows hot, an illuminated manuscript. The artist takes a break, asks for an ice-cycle stick, kicks back on the grass, considers the remaining supply of chalk, eyes the blank concrete spaces up the block.
At night, the drawing cools off. The artist tells a story of a child with a blue cat on concrete.