“some coffee” and “some more coffee”

“some coffee” and “some more coffee”

TUESDAY, July 23, 2013

Note from the return journey: About seven miles from Pine Cove, on the way up from Banning, the pavement turned wet as if the heavy mist had dragged a soggy curtain right across the road and trailed it all the rest of the route into Idyllwild. The rain had stopped an hour and a half earlier, according to a young woman working at the counter of the grocery store in town. By the time I checked in at Idyllwild Arts, a very light rain had started up again. Ed Skoog told me that almost two inches fell yesterday, and every bit of it helped squelch the fire.  It’s difficult to believe not only that the evacuation order has been lifted, but that there is a town to return to.

There are several blogs I enjoy reading: Harry Northup, Amy King, Oriana Ivy, and Brooks Roddan are among my favorites. Brooks posted a short play yesterday; the ping-pong dialogue and his citation of the reader’s suggestion about a time-gap reminded me of Ted Berrigan’s poem, “In the Wheel.”

In Berrigan’s poem, the gravidity is not an ornamental detail, but suggests how the image (“an emotional or intellectual complex in an instant of time”) shifts with the passage of time in the narrator’s subjectivity. The question is not about the desire or need for more coffee, but whether he would genuinely “like” the arrival of more coffee, as if the drink were a friend who wanted to join the table. In affirming her request, Berrigan picks up his cup and hands it to her so that she doesn’t have to bend to pour the coffee. It’s seems like an infinitely minor kindness, but one that is not taken for granted by the waitress. Perhaps one of the most subtle differences between the play and poem, however, comes in the opening question:

“Would you like more coffee?” (Roddan)

“Would you like

Some more coffee?” (Berrigan)

The presence of the word “some” suggests a portion of amplitude. I must admit I never before noticed that word in this poem by Berrigan. I would like to write some more about that word, but I can’t quite break through to it yet. It does strike me, though, that WC Williams’s poem, “This Is Just to Say,” would be quite different if it had begun:

I have eaten

Some plums…..


Two People: a play in one act

Monday, July 22, 2013

Me: Would you like more coffee?

She: No thank you, I’m satisfied with what I have.

Me: Then I’ll be unsatisfied with what I don’t have.

It’s a short play, :09 seconds in a normal reading, though several actors who’ve performed it draw upon the nuances to give it a more leisurely pace. One reader suggested that the time-gap between the female’s answer to the male’s question and the male’s response be elongated to the degree that more dramatic tension might be wrung out of the exchange.

In The Wheel

The pregnant waitress asks
‘Would you like
some more coffee?’
Surprised out of the question
I wait seconds ‘Yes,
I think I would!’ I hand her
my empty cup, &
‘thank you!’ she says. My pleasure.

Ted Berrigan


Comments are closed.