War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

a few days to go

before I join them again. and somehow, I’m already there. though I’m not completely packed. though I have a million things to do.

today, at the office (the green brocade couch, circa 1974, the kind mothers used to encase in plastic, forbid the kids to sit on) at Cafe Fantastico, D, the owner, came over to me and handed me a pound of his very finest. shade grown. roasted in the back of his funky little coffee bar.

good, black, coffee. a smile on his face as he gives it to me. his gift to the boys. and he’s concerned I know, that I don’t have a grinder. because he takes great pride in what he does. in the integrity of it. but I say to him. it’s not possible to carry one with me. so I suggest he grind it for drip.

and I can smell it brewing in Admin. COY already. and I can see the 2nd Lt from Alpha, or maybe the Lt from Charlie, drifting in. to the cage down in the lines. “any coffee left?“ they’ll ask. an innocent lilt in their voices. and the guys in Admin. will laugh. point them to the coffee pot. tell them, “there’s milk in the fridge“, then they’ll settle in for a chat and a joke. tell each other who is going where. when. who is coming. who is going. what the wife thinks of 2009 (not much)…

and I’m thinking, it’s kind of nice. for me. to be the middle man. to deliver the impulse of generosity. of understanding. from a guy working his ass off roasting coffee. buying beans directly from farmers in Mexico or wherever. giving people jobs. dignity. a place to go and be social. or to study. or to write (me). in this soft, spoiled, city.

and I’m thinking, it’s amazing. that he gets what I’m doing. and he’s sending a message through his coffee. to the boys serving. in that freezing prairie city. the boys preparing for who knows?

and D promises to send coffee with me every time I go with the infantry. and to Afghanistan. when it’s time for me. to go.

a little taste of home.

2 Comments (Closed)


I’m intrigued by your use of the full stop in places where it would not usually be seen; eg “ …and to Afghanistan. when it’s time for me. to go”
You use it a lot in your poems, too. So, what’s the reason – I’m sure there is one, as you’re too precise in other things for this just to be a slip of the finger on the keyboard?!

Jan 31 2009 · 14:25


Hebridean, quite frankly, my punctuation is spontaneous. Having said that, my lack of Caps., my short jerky sentences etc. are all a function of how I perceive war work to be stop and start, unpredictable, unconventional. So too, do I see this online project as informal, raw, unedited sketch work.

Vis-a-vis the specific lines you refer to, “and to Afghanistan. when it’s time for me. to go.” I suppose each fragment is worthy of pausing over. What does it mean to turn one’s attention towards Afghanistan? The next fragment, “when it’s time for me,” refers to the long preparation mentally, physically, and the long wait. Again, the pause to emphasize the wait.
And I suppose I’m addressing fear perhaps in the last fragment, “to go”… physically? mentally? death? whatever is waiting for me.

I don’t know if any of this helps. and then too, there is in all probability, a slip of the finger on the keyboard as I write when I’m too tired, or if I’ve had a glass of wine, or if I’m in a hurry. This is the vulnerability, the chance one takes when writing online for all to see.

thanks as always for making me think

Jan 31 2009 · 16:41

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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled a few days to go. It was posted here on January 28, 2009.


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