Coffee Poems: Volume I – Pour

William Shier

Coffee with Foucault

The Shierean revised its head again
Though none named the way this time

Am I too fat
too skinny
Probably too flat
Someways big
Someways minnie
Do I go on too long
Am I too quiet
Too loud
Quite, or too sl(e)ight
Do I dominate the convo
When id much rather submit

Too obscure
But not artistic enough
I haven’t rolled in sauce
I wish I knœw
As much as the ones I aspire to
-the ones I read and write
-the ones I assay and test
-the ones I’m tested on
Or hardly anything at all

I’m stuck between dictions
–Not poetic enough
in expression
–Not prosaic enough
in clarity
–Not lyrical enough
in flow
I’m stuck between worlds
and people
and places
and pages
and pains
It could have been coffee with others but no one was there and nobody came.


Mark Rothko, Untitled 1958

Coffee with Kiest – redacted

Stationary camera,
Painting in a corner facing outwards,
No one else can see the canvas,
Camera eventually pans ‘round
To show it.
Is he mad?
Is it blank, or black, or Brown,
Does it look like white noise?
Is it of himself or a lover?
[Un]fortunately I cannot paint.
I have decided it is brown white noise.
Brown for the subtractive colour.
The non-black white noise
For everything else.

A pheasant was crossing the train tracks home.

Eat your pheasant, drink your wine,
your days are numbered, Bourgeois Swine!’

                                       ‘Oh but I like pheasant, my Grandma is given them’.

Then off to the gulag,
I thought.
I’m only being ironic,
Of course, of course.




Scattered  stuffing  fluff  along  the  park   path,
Teddy stuffing – blood, guts, gore – the ground.
I was  on  the  ground,  id    been  on  the   floor.
The     journey    back     was   always    shorter.
I    hate    the    travel,   it   lengthens   my   day,
Without   it   though   I    wouldn’t    cool    off,
And then  theyd   know  and  then  itd  be  real.
But  then   they  know   now,  this  is  a  reflex,
The   old   way,   and   still     I     jump   to   it,
So    used    to    my     circles    of    suffering,
To    Patterns    of     Dialogic     Expression.
I  do  not  mean  to  invent  terms  this  time,
They are much more vulgar when  I  intend.
Twosand words in one night, four hours sleep,
And doubts  ill  ever seek learning again.
Complexity is too intense for  me.
I  hate the phrases that justify faith,
But ignorance would be bliss to me now,
And I would rather not know my devil,
The daemon that steals after me all day,
My most unentangled particle-ist,
Which is my most man-as-an-island-ist,
Which of course is all of everyday.
Me llorando, llorando, llorando.
O, sounding so edgy ive tripped and tipping,
Edging into another dimension.
You know my skin was tingly on the train,
No not specific addressed object
only new        ,
Although                                            .
Well to be clear they’re both older than me,
Unless you count a sentence months ago.
my skin trying for the expulsion
I prohibited my eyes from making.
genre now?
Whilst I know the unmet criteria
That will prevent my participation.
So, let me be clear
both       .


The essay wasn’t great,
It was better cos of             .


Where did all this come from?
And how did we get here?
Where will it go?
No one seemed to notice
That a verse of Crossroads
The message.
But when                 ,
And loved his other songs
I questioned if I should have

Now I entertain many others,
Far worse.

We’re mature adults,
So feelings are no matter.

Mark Rothko, No 16

Coffee with James

My Dad asked me for help
Writing a personal statement.
When I wrote my uni one
He asked where id copied it from.
People expect expertise of me
But the more I learn
The less certain I am.
The more I write
The less I understand
what a sentence is
I’m always asking for help
But I’m still expected to give advice

And then the sun came out
So lazy
I did that years ago
Though only to a few
In a different way
I’m in as the sun is out

So many sitting on the grass
With the gloss of a prospectus

I mean
Id rather have
Or benzodiazepines
Have I been dirty enough to be clean

Sad songs don’t make as much sense in the sun


Mark Rothko, Seagram Mural

Coffee with Gissing (and Derrida)
Or Voiced Through

I accidentally wrote a sonnet
Last night when I couldn’t sleep.
I was thinking,
Though the thoughts thought were thoroughly unordered
And certainly unsuited for any
Wobble-desked and stern-faced-overseen hall.
The pre-sleep fantasising haze
Was mingling with awkward regrets
And tinged by the knowledge of an early start.
I thought of what I could write,
And then I had to write.
I wrote what I would write of their beauty.
The lines are as ugly as the poet.
Without realising I arrived at the couplet.

I want to write a crown of them
But not with that subject.
I just wanted coffee
But ex-family were in the way.
Unlike them I only have paper as company.

I hate that I wrote it.
Other than the bedside convenience,
That is why it’s in the black note book.

I remember my father
Buying a giant multipack of cigarettes,
All cellophaned together,
In duty free,
So he could survive the week.
By slowly poisoning himself.

Now I’m not one to talk,
But I was then.

I leave my notebook unattended
And hope I find something new in it when I return.

I’m waiting for that second puberty,
That second batch of maturity.

Have you ever misheard some song lyrics?
But where you thought the singer sung something
More beautiful than the actual utterance?

The sound of iron shards is stuck in my head,
The thunder of the drums dictates
The rhythm often falls to number of dead
The rising of the hearts ahead

From the dawn of time to the end of days
I will have to run away
I want to feel the pain and the bitter taste
Of your blood on my leaves again

I can’t recall your eyes, your face

Perhaps not more beautiful
But I imagine you understand.

I do not like measures that try
To add fondant to a burnt cake.
The thing with a burnt cake,
Assuming you’re still hungry,
Is either that you eat it.
Or you bake a new one.
The latter I insist on.

I try to read myself to sleep.

I read over the sonnet
And it has no turn
Just a brief detour and re-turn

It snows every night in Brighton
On those already too white
And entitled,
Some might say.
So many draw like kites
And fly like beached whales.

If there was time I’d write a
Hate and Masturbation poem

“Scar tissue is stronger,” I tell myself.
I realise
I’m wrong/I lie.

Mark Rothko, 28

Coffee with Rhys

The Lighght comes through the 4th story windows
And lighghts my table in the hallway.
It was there, empty, for me.
Or really for anyone else
Who could have sat there.
There are two chairs,
Pururple and Blueue,
I sit in Blueue.
The Lighght blinded me above table heighght,
So all the passers-by,
Contrastingly backlight,
Were figures to me,
Faceless voices.
Gumless teeth.

His paling eyes
From the blue of mine
to grey
His hair likewise
From the jet black
Darker than the dark brun of mine
To the grey of

I come back to my table
And there’s a guy sitting in Pururple.
He hasn’t written in my notebook,
Or read them for me.
He gets up and leaves as I sit back down,
Then pauses as he walks away,
He vacillates,
Then sits down again.
It’s okay that you were there.
You don’t need to leave.

Not a heroine
The heroin

Oh, immoral English

Mark Rothko, 17

Coffee with 146923 (and Shakespeare)

The pink blossom of three trees,
The species I know not,
Has their petals, or leaves,
Scuttle across the steps
To the tune of the sombre song
On my headphones.

“Does anyone have a chainsaw?”                                              I edit it more
“Nifty versification”.                                                                     That that
“Perfect” “closure”,                                                                       Discussed more
Closing itself again and again.
But the lines!                                                                                  Aforementioned alterity    Parts connected by                                                                       Clauses   asyndeton
Pinned red thread.                                                                       Nevertheless                            “Escapes freeness”.                                                                      The legastic self
“Troubled with language”.
What is its death wish?                                                               You should take
Deliberately staged                                                                      “A few days” break.
[not staged by accident].                                                            “You’re a born academic”.
A found signature.                                                                        Thanks
“Sputtering to silence”.                                                                But i’m made
“Professorial voice”,                                                                     And making
“Like a Radio 4 educational programme”.                              To make
The Four Quartets,
[I haven’t read].                                                                            “Excellent!”.
What if I were to tear
It down                                                                                            The next person didn’t arrive
This way?                                                                                        So I had their time too.
It would feel like a mutilation.
[No, no, please do that].                                                               Will it transcend expectations.

A Sansa like women walked past
Pulling beer and cakes behind.
I clearly missed the perfect meeting.
Instead I went were ex-family was.

“It’s hard to make people say,
These days,
‘What was that?’”.
“You’re so extra”.


Whisky with Greenblatt (and Shakespeare)
Or Just a few fingers

Of course what’s said
Is part of us,
Words are contributions,
But possible falsehoods
Are falsehoods
Are always are collusions
With the thing brought back as real
All the same as the person speaking.


All but a sickle cell of ice has melted,
It’s nearly coloured and clear.

I am vanishing into something,
Fashioning my nakedness,
Trying to pass the Course of General Lingerie,
of identity,
of course,
of course –
My unfeigned antic disposition.


Pre-creases of planned ripping
And the anticipated shuffling
For unplanned order.
Let me say
The celestial was wrong.
Spin-position and condition are nothing
When all is undecided until observation.
Now let me allude to what one called an illusion.
It is one, my friend, but different forces decide this process.
Someone said random is ‘Free Will’ but what if I’m ‘Captured Bill’.


Music in the waiting room,
A Generally Poor playlist,
More off-setting than silence.

Mark Rothko, Black on Maroon 1958

Whisky with J. Paul

Published the year of my birth
You write like me,
How did you know?
We write how we write
That is so.
It is known.
Have my
Ginkgo tree
It’s not as golden
But that’s not what I mean.

I was sitting and I saw
Pins pricks of light across my vision
Across my sight
A star map that faded in with sharp rapidity
They dashed
drifted with trails
Rearranged                                                                                                                                                                  And reappeared.
For less than half a minute
All I could do was look
There was no pain.
Floaters and flashes I search for
Though no descriptions seemed to fit.

I was walking down a dirt path country lane,
Following the sound of music,
All I knew was it was onwards.
I came to a junction
And a man was playing with a ball,
This explained a banging noise
But the music did not come from here.
I couldn’t discern the sound’s direction,
The two new paths couldn’t be the way,
So I looked around and turned around,
Like a music box,
Until a hole in the hedgerow was there.
I went down into the Arcadian passage.
I found my grandad listening to a record player
On the narrow path.
On the right it opened down to a vertical field.
The music was gone and the path was a tilting edge.
We looked down upon a black hole
Parts were replaced
With a faded through
Gaseous obliquethesis.
The reabiogenesis of khaos;
The ejaculate of power.
I knew he was responsible for it.
I was losing my footing as the path crumbled.
He had shoes for me with better grip
But I said to put them in my room.
Refuge was in a wooded area.
He biked away as I was tangled on the grass.
Unlike him.

During that I forgot
What other family did to me
And what I’ve done to myself.
These things resurface
And reappear
And I remember
What I never told.
Recently I was told I said:
“Please don’t make me go back there”.
To which I replied:
That was a long time ago.
It was a long time ago,
But when you remember
It’s always.

A cosmos of cold fires, of dark stars, and white holes;
Where sense of my sense is made.

The lights were real.
I wish they had hurt.
This must hurt instead.

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