The Poetry Reader At The Coffee House

By John Grey

She begins with sorrow,

follows it up with misery,

and then comes extreme pain,

physical, mental and spiritual.

For someone so young,

she’s had more hard times

than my depression-era great-grandparents.

Suddenly, the coffee tastes

like the blood she’s spilled,

the muffin breaks apart in my fingers

like a brittle heart.

But I shouldn’t be surprised.

Stand-up comedians don’t do gigs

in coffee houses.

These stages are reserved

for drab dress, drab faces,

even drabber poetry.

She finishes her spot

by advertising 

a chapbook she has to sell.

I buy one.

It’s thirty pages of sheer hell.

Her last words to me are,

“I hope you like it.”

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Sin Fronteras, Dalhousie Review and Qwerty with work upcoming in Plainsongs, Willard and Maple and Connecticut River Review.

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