Ahab’s Mate

A cup, a sleeve, a siren song scent, I
pick her up, outbound, spend too much – a tall
extra-hot, double-shot made sufferable
“because we care about our planet”. We
sail on, addicted, believe in her tale,
and culpable, gulp her mythology.
With paper-thin desire, I stare into
green-haloed, star-crowned, green eyes, lips, hair. She
surfs lazy brown, bony, corrugated waves
environmentally aware. We skim
the sky, a flat white winter foams below,
a strawberry frappuccino dawn blooms.
Maybe “Time and tide flow wide” but I fear
this convenient relationship is doomed.

(Posted for Bjorn’s dVerse invitation for Handbook of Forms.  We were invited to write a sonnet.  Here is the link. Poetry Forms – The sonnet )

starbucks sleeve


52 thoughts on “Ahab’s Mate

  1. I’m a coffee addict but I prefer the local independent coffee shops that serve me in a washable ceramic mug. I especially like the places where the mugs come in a variety of sizes, shapes, colors and many have witty quotes. Part of my coffee ritual is choosing the mug. 😉 Your poem was wonderfully witty and the sonnet form served it’s witty-ness well! Btw: as I read your poem Melville’s book Moby Dick came to mind…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderfully done, Susanne. Naturally I love the sonorous alliteration.

    And so, at the intersection of poetry and your response to my comment on your last post, I agree totally that Canadians are more substantial.

    Here is an example:

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Canada. The land of Alice Munro, Justin Trudeau, and Weird Al. Weird Al should be our poet laureate though it wouldn’t go along with our do-gooder international image. He really is an undervalued satirist. I think my favourite (though it is very hard to choose) is the Ebay song. He does have a marvelous way with words and his mind works in delightfully twisted ways.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Perhaps Weird Al is under appreciated, but so is Harmonium. Given the choice, I would always choose to listen to the latter as it speaks directly to the soul, which is to say without the intermediary of parody or without seeking popular success (Harmonium refused to sing in English, which would have widened their audience considerably).

        Liked by 1 person

        • Malheuresement, je ne suis pas bilingue. I can pick out individual words but I’m missing the subtlety of the lyrics, again, malheuresement. It is terribly embarrassing to live in Canada’s capital and not be fluent in both of our official languages. I do like the arrangement, the voice, the amusing use of a cowboy hoot in the middle of the song, the guitar and, despite not fully understanding the lyrics, I will listen to more. Thanks for sending me this, Prospero.

          Liked by 1 person

          • The song is, I think, about the vicissitudes of being a musician and how the public doesn’t understand the struggle. The central metaphor is a curtain and how it goes up and down. It’s also about the fear of having wasted one’s talent.

            Un musicien parmi tant d’autres [A musician in a sea of musicians]

            Une main sure une epaule [A hand on someone’s shoulder]
            Chacun a bien son role [everyone has played their part well]
            Le rideau monte et descend [The curtain goes up and down]
            Le musicien se serre les dents [The musician clenches his teeth]
            Il est si bien pour une fois [He is calmer now, almost heady]

            A la porte d’un cafe [At the door of a cafe]
            Son nom vient se s’effacer [his name was just removed]
            On a trouve quelqu’un de mieux [A better player was found]
            Le musicien se faisait vieux [The musician was no longer top dog]
            Comme un enfant, il etait une fois [Like a child, once upon a time]

            Comme le rideau sur une corde (Like a curtain hoisted by a wire]
            Le musicien monte et descend [The musician is cast up and down]

            Une nuit pour oublier [A night to forget all]
            Y’a des problemes qu’on [There are problems we]
            veut saouler [must drown in drink]
            Une bouteille [A bottle ]
            monte et descend [rises and falls]
            Le musicien se [The musician ]
            serre les dents [clenches his teeth]
            Il est si loin [He is so lost]
            une autre fois [Once upon a time]

            A la porte d’un cafe [At the door of a cafe]
            Les noms ne font [The names do nothing]
            que changer [but change]
            Il a enfin compris pourqui le sien [He finally understood why his name]
            ne sera plus la [will not be there]
            Comme un enfant [Like a child]
            on ne vit qu’une fois [One only lives once]

            Comme le fond d’une bouteille [Like the bottom of a bottle]
            Le musicien a fait son temps [the musician puts in his time]

            Ou est alle tout ce monde [Where have all the musicians gone?]
            Qui avait quelque chose [Those who had so much]
            a raconter [to say]
            On a mis quelqu’un au monde [We bring someone into the world]
            On devrait peut-etre l’ecouter [Maybe we ought to listen to them]

            Liked by 1 person

          • I did the translation myself, but very quickly. To give it justice you’d have to spend some time on it.

            I’m also very sympathetic to the musician. The end is so uplifting, though. It asks for respect for those who try–and not to judge so harshly. They may not be perfect, but we ought to listen up (because music and poetry are vocations).

            Liked by 1 person

          • My goodness, you are a talented fellow! You are a wordsmith in 2 (to my knowledge) languages. I see the common bond between you and Cynthia. Did you know a book of her poetry has been published posthumously?

            Liked by 1 person

  3. Love “We skim
    the sky, a flat white winter foams below,”
    “extra-hot, double shot”
    Culpable is gulpable, this reminds of the current schtick on “the good place” about life being so complicated that we can’t buy a tomato without accruing bad karma. I love the sound and focus into this siren’s song, I don’t drink coffee, but I do buy tomatoes. Thank you also for your kind notice of my recent poem. It is so appreciated. 🙋🏻‍♀️

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow! I won’t be able to have a cup of coffee at Starbucks without thinking of you now Susanne this was great!! Such a wordsmith. I found this in the Urban dictionary..One with the ability to effortlessly string together words, no matter their actual meaning, in an instance and in such a way it brings a Smile ; ) to the faces of those listening, sometimes often laughter or tears of admiration for having heard someone with such an amazing skill. Thank you this was a great way to start my morning now for that cup of coffee!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! This poem had many incarnations and then when I started researching “Starbuck” I learned he was actually a character in Moby Dick. I’m probably the last person on the planet to know that.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is wonderful, and I got caught in the text before scrolling down to the picture to gather where you pulled your inspiration… The title of course made me think of whales and what we do with the sea… maybe the paper is a bit better than the plastic at least…. but in the end it’s more like landfill in the end.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The only part of a Starbucks takeout cup that is recyclable is the sleeve. The rest is trash but somehow they look all virtuous because of that one tiny bit. It salves our conscience and keeps them getting away with it. It’s a mad world.


    • I rarely drink Starbucks Coffee but I was travelling by air with my daughter last week and picked up a cup in the airport. Did I mention I don’t like flying? I need to distract myself from the noise of the airplane, the changes in engine pitch, the wing dips. So I pulled out my notebook and tried to find something to concentrate on that wasn’t focused on flying that I could write about. Et voila! I really do appreciate you reading my poems, Joanne when I know poetry isn’t your thang.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ah, yes, I don’t like to fly, either. I end up strategizing about the best times to run to the single bathroom (assuming nobody goes in there and stays–this has happened), jiggling my legs, trying to nap, and generally wasting time. It does not diminish our friendship one iota that you, on the other hand, wrote a rough draft of a sonnet, which you polished to perfection in one week.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Security lineups at the airport are THE worst. If ever there was a moment to trigger my bowels, that’s the one. Or as soon as I see a lineup on the flight and there’s only one bathroom, that’s another.

          I love small forms, Melissa. So much more manageable than a shaggy essay of 2500 words or, a short story I started, something that is close to 10,000 words. How the heck do I wrangle that creature?


"The river flows both ways." (Margaret Laurence)

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