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August 7, 2022

Cup of Joe

Rosaleen Lynch

God and The President killed my friend; I don’t believe in either, but they did it, were in on it together, messiah complexes both, came to the meeting high as if we didn’t know, said they were high on life, and refuse when Joe offers them a cup of coffee, a cup of Joe from Joe, God says, and The President says, no drugs at NA Joe, caffeine’s a drug, and Joe smiles, raises his cup of black to them, he’s used to roastings, heard it all before, from other gods and presidents, trying to reap what they’ve not sown, some grind coarse others fine, but they kept coming back, until they don’t, good thing is they come, Joe says, and there are twelve steps more they can take, the first’s hardest to admit, and the second, well for God and The President, believing in a greater power than them is not easy, Joe says, and I sit in group, want to back Joe up, the curling poster’s yellow font, shouting at me from across the room to Wake up and Smell the Coffee and I think of the metaphors from what Joe calls our cliched lives, that stop urges going from brains to hands, if we can only force them out our mouths, but I say nothing, I watch Joe’s patience, hold my hands like his, round my paper cup, breathe in time, nod and smile but next time I sit in group there’s no Joe, just this guy with Joe’s clipboard saying he’s the new Joe, but doesn’t sit like Joe, hold his hands like Joe or breathe in time, nod and smile, no he’s no Joe, and during the serenity prayer, God and The President stumble in, stop at the coffee station where God asks this guy if he wants a cup of Joe, like he’s the fucking Good Samaritan, and this guy waves no, and propping each other up they shuffle past me to empty seats, where the light is brightest in the room, and I breathe in time, nod and smile, and this guy says Joe took his life, and gives out cards, like they’re fucking cafe loyalty cards, with info and numbers for bereavement support, church and suicide lines, and I remember Joe saying he liked to watch baristas tamp and how BC meant Before Coffee and I watch God and The President cut up sugar with their cards and feel heat rise, thoughts bubble and percolate, and my reflection in my coffee, black like Joe’s, says it’s their fault Joe’s filter stopped working, their fault he couldn’t swallow it or spit it out, that no amount of sugar could take away the bitter taste, their fault that he felt washed out like used coffee grounds, that all the good left for him to do, was to fertilize the earth, so I attend another meeting now, one without a god or president, or a Joe, but with a good quality drip-coffee, and I sit and hold on to my paper cup like it's my fucking life and breathe in time, nod and smile, and one day I talk about my friend Joe, and how he saved my life and how if I’d told him, I might have saved his life too.