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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 4: July 2020
Ekphrastic Poem: 244 words
By LeeAnn Pickrell

Ode to Coffee

—After Richard Diebenkorn’s Coffee *

That first sip of morning. 
The woman in her chair, 
cup in both hands, 
brought to her lips like a chalice. 
Hues of blue and green. 
She faces away from the window, 
away from the day. 
That first taste of day, 
of loam and earth. 
Like the relief 
of the first drink of alcohol, 
except the edges sharpen, not blur. 
That drink when the world is 
too harsh and jittery, 
when everything hurts. 

After the relief of years, 
of reaching for scotch, gin, vodka, wine, beer, 
the black curtain of no memory, 
now I have only coffee. 
Coffee is memory. 
Of late afternoon Café Cubanos 
as I sit on the deck 
watching the sun sink. 
Too late and I’ll wake 
as if I’ve hardly slept, 
and the only thing to do is drink more coffee, 
at least two cups each morning, 
then there’s always that afternoon dip, 
sometime between two and four, 
when it’s either a nap or coffee or both. 

Like those drinks to forget, to make myself 
feel right in the world. 
Now it’s the rich darkness 
that lets me keep on with the day. 
Like my Dad said when he was dying 
that Saturday he took morphine for the pain, 
“That first drink really did it.” 
He knew I knew what a first drink could do. 
In my bed of morning again, 
curtain closed against the light 
that first sip so hot and thick. 



*Publisher’s Note:

Richard Diebenkorn’s Coffee (oil on canvas, 1959) resides at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and is not reproduced here due to quality-control and copyright restrictions by The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation. The painting, and its details, may be viewed at SFMOMA via this perma-link (retrieved on 25 June 2020):

LeeAnn Pickrell
Issue 4, July 2020

is a poet living in Richmond, California. Her work previously appeared in KYSO Flash and most recently in Eclectica and Coffee Poems, and is forthcoming in West Marin Review. She is a freelance editor, and managing editor of Jung Journal: Cultural and Psyche.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Two poems by LeeAnn Pickrell in KYSO Flash (Issue 8, August 2017): Hand and Wheel, after Georgia O’Keeffe—Hand and Wheel (1933) by Alfred Stieglitz; and The Ostrich

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