Personal · Poetry Break

“Whatever Happened to the Coffee Love Guy?”

by Guillermo Corona

Faces in the crowd
cast in shadow. Lone
light shining upon an
open mic. Nerves gathered,
sweat glistening on anxious brow–
we come together not to bury,
but to praise this noble art. 

Tea-stained pages, rimmed with coffee
mark the passage of time
from home cook meals to library
meeting rooms to a new wave–
una nueva onda, a night of readings
with friends and family
y familias.

We are grandmothers y abuelas,
compadres and instant friends.
¿Si no hablamos ahora, who will?
We are the voices of generations
new and long since past,
whispers and echoes both, 
cracking on an open mic.

Somos amadores, we are coffee drinkers,
dunking pan dulce in our cups
while trading words and waxing poetic
philosophies like it was going out of style. 

Memory is a funny thing, ain’t it? I was sitting at my desk the other day when one just wiggled into the space between thoughts. It’s one of the last nights I hung around with the “coffee love guy.”

We both attended one of Amado’s Nueva Onda Poetry readings at the Dustin Michael Sekula Memorial Library. He had recited – upon popular request – the poem in question, “Coffee Love.” I don’t know what it was about that poem that was a crowd pleaser, but those of us who knew the man knew him for that poem. It’s the only one that stuck in my memory, though I’m sure he read others.

“Whatever happened to that guy?” I wondered before pushing the thought aside, trying to focus on my work.

Memories, however, won’t be ignore.

The question hung in my head until I wrote down what would later be the title of this poem – “Whatever Happened to the Coffee Love Guy?” – into my bullet journal. I scribbled a few lines, trying to remember the conversation we had. Nothing stuck.

I tried writing a poem about loss – and I did – but I didn’t want to just focus on losing people. I wanted to remember someone, or rather the feelings I had two decades ago when I first took the stage at Amado’s little cafe and read for the first time.

And when I had those bare bones laid out, I started filling them in. Mixing in the words into English and Spanish – my broken Spanish. I flipped back to the page I wrote down my question and thought, “Now that’s a title I could use.”

I still haven’t answered my question, though. And maybe it will remain a mystery. I might bump into him one day, or maybe that last night was our last conversation. But if you’re reading this, man, how’s it been?

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