The Difference Between Spilling Coffee and Spilling Tea

You may well be surprised to hear
about the difference between spilling tea
and the parallel but oh so different act
of misplacing your daily cup o’ joe.

Coffee spills are the forte of drowsy
morning hands-
as if it wasn’t already hard enough
to crawl into the on-rushing day.

Perhaps you were distracted, my dear
by a bad dream
or a friend rather far away,
and were hoping to sharpen slowly-
slide by difficult thoughts unnoticed.

Either way, that precise moment
when you spill your hot coffee-
the cup made with the last scoop
in the jar- that is when
you will decide the color of the day.

Of course, tragedies like this are subjective,
and the interpretation of this
mug tumbling will be your own,
whatever shade you light upon
while sipping the drops that survived
that day break fall.

But spilling tea…
well frankly, it’s just not that big
of a deal.

In the evening, or rather the
late afternoon when
the last of the sun leaks in
through the kitchen window-
too soft to disturb
the chill in the air- the window is open.
Only your hands are warm-
cupped around something herbal.

Studies show that ninety-nine percent of the time
the ginger tea spill was a direct result
of the fact that
your eyes were fixed on the friend
sitting rather close by,

and if my facts are straight,
they made you laugh a whole body laugh,
which naturally (as is natural) upset the teacup,
and quite a bit spilled into your lap.

In this case, you were, perhaps,
so preoccupied with this person
that the ginger tea had grown cold.
And so you laughed
and laid your hand on theirs
before rising to quickly whisk away
the mess.


In the low blue lustre

Carl SandburgI have become obsessed recently with the Carl Sandburg poem “Sketch.” I have a brittle, well read edition of Chicago Poems. Besides the brutally insightful poems of Sandburg, the inside cover has a note from my dad, who bought the slim volume for me while stuck in the Chicago airport seven years ago. It is one of my favorite books of poetry, but for some reason, “Sketch” never struck me the way it has in the last few weeks. Perhaps the difference is that now I live only two blocks from a harbor (the one in the photo), and the ocean is omnipresent in this city.

“The shadows of the ships
Rock on the crest
In the low blue lustre
Of the tardy and the soft inrolling tide.

A long brown bar at the dip of the sky
Puts an arm of sand in the span of salt.

The lucid and endless wrinkles
Draw in, lapse and withdraw.
Wavelets crumble and white spent bubbles
Wash on the floor of the beach.

Rocking on the crest
In the low blue lustre
Are the shadows of the ships.”

000018 (1)

A brief look at the spinning of the world and some of its side effects.

The incessant
spinning of the world
reliably topples
even the steadiest among us.

And the biggest problem
facing those aspiring
to remain upright
is the fact that
whatever you might cling to,
whomever you instinctively reach for-

they are spinning too,
and so are not
particularly helpful.

It stands to reason then,
(pun intended)
that the only way
to escape this inborn vertigo
is to lean on someone
with perfect balance-

perhaps somethings that sits outside
or above
the ceaseless whirring
of our dizzy, little lives.

Fresh Twists

the way life twists nowadays
is new to me-
its peculiar new manner of weaving-
fresh like a clementine
peeled with ease
delivers with each sweet slice
and an appetite whetted for more,

but also like
the fear that presses
on the back of my neck
and unsettles my stomach
when I enter a new place alone
to meet a stranger
or a new acquaintance.

A Systematic Analysis of Failed Friendship

Choose your friends wisely.
Choose friends whose backs
you probably won’t want to stab
when you find out why
you haven’t seen their faces in a while.

(when they’ve run away with your time)

Achy, messy
not as simple
as a pop song
fewer a-ha moments
than I expected.

If it doesn’t love you let it go.
Then get to work on some medical advancement
that will drastically reduce
your recovery time.

(and perhaps even earn you millions)

Achy, messy
cry a little
fume a little
solve a little.

(then move along)

Achy, messy
make a wall
make a platform
make something to keep
make something to give away.

(then, little heart, move along)

Wanting Sadness

It wasn’t the fault of the bench or the insensitivity of a premature winter sunset. I don’t blame the cheerful people filling all the open spaces, cutting off every avenue for escape. Logically, I can’t hold the cold night air accountable for failing to clear my mind while I sat on my favorite bench. For a moment, I did raise my eyebrows at God. I know better, in these occasional hours of distress, than to ask for happiness. Happiness is far too trivial an emotion to do any real good. Happiness- can I be frank here?- perhaps it’s overrated. No, what I most thirst for when internal chaos is making it hard to breath is not a sip of air, but a full lung- an emotion deep enough to meet me where I am and respond. Happiness might see the silver lining; I desperately need to see the gold of this whole hurting.

From slumber, I awoke in the morning
To the sweetest sadness
A vision of the unreachable ideal-
While sleeping, I moved through the veil
It still floated in my mind after waking
And the loss of this will surely be
My Ache and my Longing
For the many years of momentary trial.


Dawn at the Black Sand Beaches by Jökulsárlón

Black sand beach by Jökulsárlón

I plucked six lovely, round stones
from the cold, black sand.

Their smooth colors were quiet
beside the heavy fall of the northern waves.

For each pebble,
I will remember one lonely iceberg
washed up on the shore-
ten thousand years of glacial memory
melting into the vast
vast echo of the ocean sub rosa.

I picked up six stones
that could hold the memory
of the grey sky and the fresh air,

of the way I felt when
I plucked six beautiful stones
from the cold, black sand.

Upon returning
to that day,
my mind provokes
a smile of solitude that is more
than daffodil joy or stumbling upon
a picture some years later,

because I thought ahead
I saw the value of the moment
and the the pinhole through
which it would slowly slip away,

so I saved
those six little memories, and I lined them up
along my little kitchen window.

Black sand beach by Jökulsárlón

Photo by Stephanie Seeger

Read more about my adventures living in Iceland on my other blog, An American In Iceland.

Dawn at the black sand beach by Jökulsárlón

These photos were all taken by my friends during our sunrise visit to the black sand beaches near Jökulsárlón (southern coast of Iceland).