In coffee shops
everyone has their story:

The schizophrenic, PJ, who lost
years of his life to speed and psychedelics,
in-and-out of mental institutions,
where he was electrocuted on a regular basis,
fed soup every day of the same variety,
while working on his manuscript and ingesting
cacti that led him to seeing ghosts in the desert
whie wearing only his underwear and driving 100mph
down the freeway until he hit the first rest area
where he slept
for three days.

The ex-junkie, Rusty, who doesn’t shoot up anymore
but comes in three times a week for a hazelnut cappuccino
with extra extra extra whipped cream and caramel on top,
that smokes cigarettes by the carton and tells stories
about some drug that causes self-induced black outs,
but is in and out of your system in three days, which is good
for someone on parol.

The retired school teacher, Paul, who is now a walking pilgrim,
walking at least fifty miles a day,
in between writing at least thirty pages of poetry,
by hand, which he leaves along the way (sometimes with me),
stopping for a sparkling lime-ade because
“there is just
something about it,
something in the bubbles,
that keep you going”.

The mindless freak, Aaron, with a dog
who knows his dog is not allowed inside,
so he sits outside in protest, screaming profanities
and calling it poetry, screaming and showing strangers
how his dog can jump through hoops
and shake hands
for a biscuit.

The fat man, Steve, in overalls
who likes his smoothies
“not too soupy”
that was shot
while walking home
on a Tuesday.

The double-americano guy, Rob,
who had a stroke and disappeared
for two weeks
and when he returned,
walking with a cane
with a skull on top, said,
“isn’t this cane pretty cool?”

The old man, Hank, who plays the piano
only on quiet nights, and tunes it to perfection,
who finishes his vaudeville compilation and says,
“I tuned the piano for free
and now it sounds perfect…
you would think
the fucker that owns this place
could at least buy
a piano stool…
I bet he even has one,
so I don’t have to fold my jacket
in half three times
on one of these shitty chairs
just to sit up straight”.

But the best regulars are:
green tea in a mug guy,
small iced red eye guy,
green tea in a large paper cup guy
biker lady in a wheel chair that is actually a guy,
large café mocha guy;

the ones without names
are the ones I like


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