coffee cream swirls
I had my first sip of coffee when I was nine years old, during the blizzard of ’78.  I think I spit it out, and I didn’t touch it again until college.  Back then, I would not have believed that Java and I would one day become friends, much less lovers.  We’ve both grown up over the years; today, he’s as respectable a guy as I could hope for–mostly Central American, occasionally Ethiopian, always organic, shade-grown, dark-roasted, and fairly traded.  Prepared in a French press and served in a reusable cup, he is pure guilt-free enjoyment.  This sestina tells our life story:


The radio awakened us from sleep;
our school was closed—hooray!  Who could forget
our state’s most famous blizzard hit that day?
Hot chocolate in exchange for shoveling help,
but Folgers was no substitute, mom learned.
Such bitter coffee faces did we make.

My college self would this decision make:
for vile brown brew, I’d never trade my sleep.
Strong coffee is a taste that must be learned.
Friends chugged and crammed all night, lest they forget
key answers, but for me, it proved no help.
A nervous wreck I’d be on testing day.

Opinions change, as did my own one day.
I needed to arise by dawn to make
it to my clinicals on time, God help
me!  Burning midnight oil, forgoing sleep.
With cream and sugar, could forgive, forget.
Befriend and brew, essential skills to learn.

New nurses work the night shift, so I learned,
chain-drinking coffee ‘til the light of day.
Whoever poured the dregs must not forget
to brew still more, or enemies she’d make.
To quell temptation’s siren song, Sweet Sleep,
St. Java was our solace and our help.

A daytime office job my habit helped;
the lobby had a coffee bar, I learned.
Espressos, mochas, lattes clearing sleep
from sluggish eyes and brains at break of day.
Lush flavors, real whipped cream, a treat did make.
Tip well the fine barrista—don’t forget!

My old friend coffee shall not be forgot.
Retired, I wake refreshed without his help
but crave his company, therefore I make
French press with cream, and in its swirls I learn
of joy and pleasure in the everyday.
A steaming mug, a household fast asleep.

I’ll not forget, O coffee, what I’ve learned!
My foe-turned-friend, my help on countless days,
a date we’ll make each morn ‘til my long sleep.

Have a comment?  Click HERE to share it.


  1. circumstance227 March 27, 2016 / 5:03 am

    Nice. This form of poem is new to me – I might give it a try myself next time I have a free month. Iambic pentameter has never been one of my strengths.


    • Just Joan March 27, 2016 / 8:22 am

      The Sestina Challenge! I like to experiment… iambic pentameter has a very musical quality


  2. Joyce Robinson March 27, 2016 / 9:57 am

    Wish I loved coffee that much
    Tea is my favorite. 😊
    Happy Easter.


  3. Joanne Miller March 27, 2016 / 3:18 pm

    Have to say I’m not enthused about the form of expression used in this verse. HOWEVER, I liked the thoughts. I can’t remember my first taste of coffee, always been a part of my life and still keeps me going each day. But Not the foamy, Starbucks kind… like mine with just a bit of whitening.. any kind is fine.


  4. kutchie Kender March 27, 2016 / 5:58 pm

    Good One! Better rely on this bean than other things in this world! Ursula


  5. Tippy Gnu March 28, 2016 / 1:08 pm

    I’m surprised. I actually like the poem, even though I don’t drink coffee. It tempts me to try coffee. Is the first cup free, and then all the rest very expensive?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan March 28, 2016 / 1:17 pm

      I started in nursing school because I was chronically exhausted and every hospital break room had free coffee (well, sort of… if you bypass the “donation” cup). Somewhere along the line, I began to like it, and now it’s a way of life. Good beans ain’t cheap, but I make it myself so it’s less expensive than hitting Starbucks every morning. Thanks for the follow and comment. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Quirky Girl March 28, 2016 / 5:39 pm

    I remember thinking coffee was the nastiest beverage ever when I was a kid, and I swore I would never, ever touch that stuff.

    Oh, how time changes one’s perspective on life so drastically! 😀

    A couple of decades and two kids later, coffee has become my bff.


  7. Elyse March 28, 2016 / 9:03 pm

    You promised poetry that I didn’t have to ponder — and you delivered!

    I used to have coffee with my grandmother when I was under 3 — full of sugar and milk. But I grew out of it until my now husband served it to me in bed (with less sugar and less milk) but brewed in a French press. Now I am hooked!

    I’m not sure you have won me over to poetry, but I like you. Let’s have coffee.

    Oh, and I was in Cambridge during the winter of ’78 — my roommate threw me my 21st birthday party on the first snowstorm, which was later trumped by that blizzard. What a winter!


    • Just Joan March 28, 2016 / 9:38 pm

      I’d love to do coffee… Get out your French press. On your mark, get set, GO!!
      Check out the Quick Index tab or the links on the sidebar for more ponder-free poetry 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Matilde Tavares April 5, 2016 / 8:34 pm

    I love this one too Joan, I am also in love with coffee and can not go a day without him! Now I’m wanting to try a French press…😀


    • Just Joan April 6, 2016 / 8:29 am

      Thanks, Matilda! Get a French press, you’ll love it!


  9. She's a Maineiac April 17, 2020 / 11:01 am

    Love that poem! I do still have a French press…maybe I should haul it out again?
    I will never give up coffee, even if I have to settle for decaf. I love the ritual of it all.


    • Just Joan April 17, 2020 / 12:04 pm

      Thanks, Darla. French press is the BEST. And hot beverages are a must in winter (and spring and fall, in Maine.) I’ve gone off coffee only twice, once for Lent and once to do a “cleanse” (don’t ask). I found out I can’t do decaf. When I drink it, I pee three times more than normal, which is already a lot. While everyone else was going crazy hoarding TP and disinfectant wipes, I was wiping out the coffee beans. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.