the rest of me


At the Café Économique,
they serve one class of patron,
one strength of resteamed coffee grounds,
a minor bird is hopping on a plastic olive branch
and a mangy city cat is watching.

I’m seated at a likeness of a table
reading faded scrawls on a communal
paper napkin.

Some nights are filled with poison
and the morning has no tourniquet,
it seeps into the day.

On the moonlit deck, the sea
will not forgive me.
The nets are in a tangle, and I sail in
fishless circles.

Some nights belong to the Marias—
Maresia and Maré,
they command the silvery fish to shine
in spiral arms, to cluster
in the corners of my room.

So cold their fallen light,
my schemes, my plans, my cravings
are Rorschach ink in their osmotic sky,
and yet they make the morning honey sweet,
dress the winter sun in gaily colored knits,
in camouflaged ambivalence.

The rest has faded into coffee stains
and lipstick imprints, but angled in one corner,
two final words:

Goodbye, Renato*


In the square outside, the march of busyness
arrives, departs, commutes
in buses, taxis, and machines that I don’t recognize.

A wild wind is swelling, and grimy raindrops streak the café windows.
Von Kármán vortex streets are trailing through the crowds
that run or huddle or comment on the weather,
its unexpected force, and one by one
they’re taken, swept aloft, away
and gone.


Time passes, stays a while, I refill my coffee cup
and notice there’s a change outside:
while the groundlings rise and vanish in the clouds,
another group descends.

A few land in the traffic and cause a snarl,
others come to the Économique for coffee
and a chat.

They cannot pay, they have no cash or cards
or clothes, but they open lines of credit.

A newcomer nods and seats herself nearby.
I make causal conversation
about the weather,
about the curious machines outside,
about living.
Could she possibly help me understand?

She does and I do.
Time’s a two-way street, I’ve reached the future,
the mysteries of the present are all behind me now.

She elucidates the nightly sea: its poisons and its sweets,
the fishing fleet and the two Marias,
Maresia and Maré,
the moon and her subservient stars.

I fumble in my pockets for a pen.
I’ll jot down all her thoughts
on a convenient scrap of paper.

In a while, I’ll notice the mobile phone
that’s pressed against her ear,
and wonder if I’m merely listening in,
irrelevant in the shadows.

Oh Renato, she’ll say, I’ve given you
the very best of me.

* the intervening comma may exist, or may be the earthly remains of a small insect.

Whirling von Kármán vortex streets are not actual streets.

The Cafés Économique might be a Latin American franchise. I’ve had the misfortune to visit several of them.

Morning, part above. There are problems with image attachment pages, sorry about that. I’m now using static pages which are hopefully okay.

40 thoughts on “the rest of me

  1. What beautiful artwork to go with. I’ve just given it a nibble; on my way to bed. Perhaps I’ll dream of the two Marias, or silvery fish. Tomorrow, a full repast. But just let me say before I go that I love the winter sun in gaily colored knits. Nighty night. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks BG. It’s good to recycle dreams. I was going to waffle about Brazilian sea goddess myths at the bottom, but I ran out of time, and as usual some of “the rest” is from dreams as well.

      Now I’m thinking … it’s strange isn’t it? Our stories, our myths, as well as being passed down generations, must have been transformed by dreaming minds, over and over, continual mixing and re-forming, a very human connection between us all. Good night (it’s another night there maybe 😃).

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Inese, glad you like it. I was pleased with the title. I started it off in a small coffee shop with some other writers, just a scene really. It became something quite different when I’d finished, and the title popped into my head. I do have enough material for a book because the rights to much of my short fiction and some other poetry have reverted to me from the publishers. My inherent laziness is definitely a stumbling block. 😸


  2. Café Économique is really serious about keeping costs down, with their communal paper napkins and resteamed coffee grounds. It seems like talking about the weather is a universal phenomenon. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. such a well paced piece Steve. I felt the woman you met was a hologram in a perspex world, as your words gave a transparency to life in that dimension. i have been having thoughts of spiral recently, like the present is an electromagnetic coil and the soleniod in the middle is the past, both moving in tandem but at different speeds to collide one day. your writing comes from a different level of consciousness.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gracias Gina. A fascinating and very perceptive interpretation. What you say about a time spiral resonates with me because I wasn’t clear on who is whom, and I imagined there might be a time loop. I suppose I should know, but it doesn’t come from that part of my brain. 😜

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Sascha. I have a theory (I always have theories). I think that if you remember a bad or unpleasant dream, it will not affect you very much through the day. However if you don’t remember a bad dream (most dreams you don’t), it will probably have a more powerful effect on you in the daylight hours. Conclusion: it’s good to remember dreams.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes I know. 😃 Well, we have dreams we don’t remember, and dreams we remember might affect us (actually it could be positive or negative). The rest comes from analogy with a common form of psychotherapy. Over time, patients can recall or even find out in other ways about childhood events that were suppressed or forgotten, and then through logical discussion and rationality, they can reduce the emotional consequences, implying that when they didn’t consciously remember them they had a bigger effect. On a microscopic scale, my crackpot theory is that this happens with dreams as well.

        BTW, I drink enough morning coffees to convince myself I’m alive, or at least a zombie.


    • Thank you , glad you enjoyed. When I started writing, I only sent stories to publishers, but I never really knew whether anyone read my fiction.

      I found the blog can be a lot of fun, and I appreciate the feedback like yours. It keeps me going, especially when I’m feeling a bit lazy (most of the time). 😸


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