Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 163


Coffee: Pike Place, Apartment Lounge Blend

The power went out while I was talking to a guy who shines shoes. He’d been telling me about his business, about a bounce-back from hardship, and what it takes to get the best sheen out of black leather. Then the room when dark. We were still comfortable, though. We’d already gotten to feel out each other’s souls.

I got a shot in my arm for tetanus, all on account of a cut on my thumb that keeps bleeding. Some of the blood slipped onto my work pants. Ripest red apples in late fall. Seeing that color made me feel like there must be something sweet inside me to paint the world so vivid. It helped me feel better when the needle was looking for my vein.

I’ve been listening to country songs on recommendation. I’ve enjoyed about half of them, but what’s stood out the most is the way they’ve changed the texture of my day. They’re not full of the aggression that sounds out the music that I’m used to. These songs come from walking through small towns in deep mountains, or getting lost on your cousin Mike’s farm. As I was leaving the doctor’s, a track started playing that had Beyonce singing beside the Dixie Chicks. The song was full of drawn out harmony, strained strings, women singing strength through hoarse vocal chords. It felt close to me, old knowledge, a red caboose. It was morning then, just drizzling, and I had no way of knowing that six hours later I’d been sitting in darkness with a shoe shine, but I could have predicted it, because the music was already showing me deep, dark spaces, three fruits on a gnarled tree, a side of our urban landscape that I rarely recognize, but that always walks with me, the red southern clay.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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If I ever get out of Dixie
Gonna buy me some brand new shoes
Gonna have somebody shine ’em up soon as I pay my dues

Ashley Monroe, Dixie

Coffee Log, Year 2 Day 162


Coffee: Pike Place, Apartment Lounge Blend

Sometimes you get reminded about just how narrow the boundary is between you and the rest of the world. I cut my thumb open while slicing onions.

It was interesting being an ink pen, spilling red marks on a poor test of cutlery, the chopping board, the floor. I went through half a roll of paper towels before the bleeding stopped.

But it did stop, and that’s remarkable too. Just as easy as you’re opened up, you close again, like a big steel shutter, midnight doors.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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It’s easier to bleed than sweat, Mr. Motes.

Flannery O’Connor, Wise Blood

Coffee Log, Day 229


Coffee: Americano, Java Jive Cary; tasted like two dollars spent on losing lottery tickets.

It’s been a grey day and that’s a-okay with me. The sun came late this morning. It’s still stuck behind clouds.
I’ve been having elaborate dreams. Two of them, Sunday and last night:
1) She’s wearing dark makeup. I’m uncomfortable, she leads me by the hand. We’re in a giant walk-in shower. She undresses. She’s got black tattoos up and down her arms. I like them. I can’t stop touching them.

2) It’s winter. I’m wearing four coats, no shirt. I’m in a mall parking lot, standing by the car. You walk by with your parents. I follow, get their attention. You’re wearing my shirt. We hug. I ask for the shirt back. You look disgusted, say: “Don’t you have anything more important to think about?” You walk away. The wind blows like birthday candles. I’m very cold.


I bought lunch at a Subway from a woman with a cut on her hand. It was taped up but you could see the blood. I watched her work. She wore gloves. I kept looking at her finger. When she finished, I paid her and ate in the store. I had red onions on the sub. I took a few of them off. Red onions, white paper, cut blood glove.
I’m traveling tonight, one city over, leaving soon. Night’s been coming quicker and lasting longer. Bad traffic; congestion. I’m a dot on the ant-line interstate. What dreams will all this give me?

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith; Cherry, Nico Walker

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“There is nothing like a dream to create the future.” – Victor Hugo


Coffee Log, Day 159


Coffee: Americano from Caribou Coffee; it was lukewarm but the summer day made up for it.

A busy day. I took work off, planned PTO. There’s a wellness program that gives a credit on insurance. It requires a quick physical – just some measurements, a blood sample. I scheduled the physical for today.

The place was hard to find. It was a diagnostics shop, a number in a big office building. I circled the building a few times without finding it. An old couple almost backed into me. Finally, I took a chance on an unmarked door. It took me to a foyer, some elevators. The diagnostic place had a name marked on the second floor.

I don’t like getting my blood drawn. Something about a needle in my veins, my own heart pumping the blood away. In high school I donated, I guess I was tougher then. Maybe age has made me squeamish; maybe I’m too aware of all the ways my heart could stop.

Otherwise, the day’s been good. I finally saw a thunderstorm. It didn’t last long, but it was good company as I put the finishing touches on a short story. I’ll be submitting it to journals so I can’t post it here for a while, but something to look forward too?

I’m off tomorrow too. Vacation, vacation, the days pump out voluntarily.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“Everybody is a book of blood; wherever we’re opened, we’re red.” – Clive Barker



Coffee Log, Day 122


Coffee: Fair Trade Ethiopian Medium Dark, Harris Teeter Brand

I sat down and almost wrote something about Japan. A bad habit. I don’t want to deal with the gunk of 28 years in NC so I play in Kumamoto, Fukuoka. There’s meaning in escapism, forgiveness if you learn the right lessons from it; I wrote a book about her, the country, the city, the woman I stole a kiss from in Hakata station; I’ve got to stop talking about that separate place.

The weekend’s gotten busy. I’ll be going back to Chapel Hill in an hour to support another writer’s book release. I’m always going back to Chapel Hill. Last night had me there. A month ago. A few years ago. In high school, my dad gave me ten bucks every other week to buy CD’s from Schoolkids. Schoolkids gave up, then it was CD Alley; hard times closed the joint and Schoolkids bought it back. Yeats cycles.

Maybe I’ll never know what to say about a Southern June. Her toes were purple but they’d grown out so the purple only tipped them, pig’s blood; the rest of her was human, stretched leather, you can almost see through but not quite.

June dates me like she’s missing something; she’ll squeeze, squeeze, spritz liquor, collect me in a mason jar, take the stuff back to someone else. We’d always rather be on the other side of the world.

I sat in a tire swing at my parents’ friends’ house at seven years old and watched the chicken coop suffer. They were all inside having barbecue. My mother couldn’t eat, she was vegetarian. It was a nice house. I couldn’t stand it. I’d had my fill of pig’s blood.

Currently Reading:

History of Wolves, Emily Fridlund (2017 Man Booker Prize Shortlist)

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“How did it get so late so soon?” – Dr. Seuss