OUTDATED: The Coffee Cup Poem

One of my fantasies has been to publish a poem on a coffee cup. So I was in luck over Thanksgiving weekend when I treated my visiting cousin and nephew to breakfast at the Outdated café in Kingston. A flier beside the cash register invited us to fill in a rather small box with an illustration for a travel mug. A winner would be chosen within days. We ignored the box but set to work on an acrostic poem that used the letters of “OUTDATED” to begin each line down the page. I don’t remember what the three of us wrote as a collaboration, but we did use “…dirty/Underwear…” to start the U line, and we had so much fun that we wrote a second poem, then brought both up to read aloud to the bearded cashier. He had the pained smile of a guy thinking, What did I do to deserve this job?

We didn’t win. Days later Facebook revealed the chosen illustration to be what you might describe as a sci fi deep sea diver’s helmet that my cousin hated but I sort of liked. Being a lawyer, he blustered and fulminated over our loss by e-mail, but, as a poet who has lost countless contests (and won a few), I reminded him that there’s no accounting for taste. Then I wrote another poem. It appears in the new Chronogram.


Once you sat
The tree of
All night
To taste the

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