Tag Archives: sadness

What Do You Do When the Coffee’s Gone

Is there anything sadder? Besides the poem, that is.

When the lamp is on, and the chair is warm, and the coffee’s gone, what do you do?

Where do you go when there’s nothing there, not in your cup, not a drop to spare?

What can you pray, to take the pain away, to smooth the rough edges of another rough day?

What do you know that can whisper to your soul, the way the coffee does, when you’re feeling so low?

And the loneliness is pressing, the wind whipping round, the chill to your bones, the stale coffee grounds.

The dry brown ring, the sad coffee stain, the slight dampness mocks you and your coffee-addled brain.

Oh sweet Lord in heaven

Oh red Devil in hell

I don’t care who I pray to, as long as it breaks the spell

This endless white emptiness, the crushing heartache, the yearning and hoping as I’m lying awake.

For a cup of coffee. Hot. No sugar. Just milk. Please.

Then we can have conversation and pass the pleasantries

And thoughts will float between us, as they do between old friends. That is, as they do, before the coffee ends.

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Open Letter to the Brown Upright Piano in Our Living Room that I Played for Eleven Years and then Abruptly Abandoned Upon Graduating from High School

an actual photo of a piano drowning in heartbreak

Hey you. It’s been a while hasn’t it? How have you been? You look good– I noticed your new picture frames; they go really well with the Bach bust and the fake plant, and I’m not just saying that. I mean it. I would never lie to you.

Well I guess there’s no point in avoiding the subject, so I’ll just come out and say it. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for everything. I’m sorry that after the thousands of hours we spent together over the years I just left you like you meant nothing to me, like you were something I was ashamed of and wanted to forget. I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for those wonderful years we had, only to have our relationship ripped away from you without warning. All those days we spent frolicking in the sun, meandering through hidden forests filled with magical creatures, exploring alien planets, visiting ages long past. While the rest of my family was tortured with the endless repetition that is piano practice, we were somewhere else entirely, floating above imaginary canyons colored fuchsia and turquoise, never scared when we were together. You have to know I’m telling the truth.

And I’m sorry for all of those holidays I spent at home while visiting from college, when I would avoid looking you in the eye. I’m sorry about the way I would whisper of what we once had and act embarrassed when anyone brought it up. I’m sorry. I didn’t know how to deal with all of it, with the way my life was changing and the way it seemed you would no longer have a part in it.

At some point we have to admit these things to ourselves. You knew I wasn’t a brilliant pianist. Don’t try to deny the truth. Sure I practiced a lot, and sure I was “advanced” and perhaps my teacher’s best student, but I didn’t have the shimmering gold talent it takes to be a real concert pianist. More importantly, I didn’t have the passion. I tried to tell myself I loved playing, and I think I believed it. Sometimes it felt so real, as we were tramping through the villages of Eastern Europe in a mythical spring, stars falling around us as we twirled upward into the night.

But at the end of the day, it was a ruse, a lie I was telling myself.  I didn’t have the passion it took to be excellent, and the love I had for playing came from a love of being the best. I know all this now, but at what cost! Oh my dear piano, you have to know it wasn’t your fault. There’s nothing you could have done. But know this: we still had everything, for a time, those beautiful early mornings in winter, the world dark and frozen outside but us warming ourselves with the glow of quarter notes, the quiet afternoons when I was alone at home and could play as loud as I wanted in front of the only audience that truly mattered: you and me.

I will always remember you, even if I forget how to play entirely, even if my parents sell you to a lady named Fern without telling me. I will always remember you and me, a girl and her piano, and how life seemed better together. I can’t forget something that’s a part of me.

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