Sunday, November 29, 2020


A scientist and a prophet
Walked into a cafe for tea.
One wanted to think; one wanted

To read the leaves. They were strangers
To the regular customers,
Who were mostly unknown poets

Waiting for the open-mic night,
Which they performed for each other
Every Friday. This was Wednesday.

The server, also a poet,
Although one who loathed open mics,
Arrived with the tea equipment.

The scientist prepared herself
To pour titrant into titrand.
The prophet waited patiently.

The poet smiled as cheerfully
As a poet can who has no
Readership or students to teach

And then withdrew a little ways,
Hoping to overhear results.
The future wasn’t interesting,

Precisely, to the poet’s ears,
But the language it was couched in,
Once prophet and scientist spoke,

Promised to use unusual
Turns of phrase the poet could steal
To add pith to his poetry.

Under the table, the sparrows
Hopped hopefully, checking for crumbs.
Prophet and scientist sipped tea.

When they put their cups down, one spun
His by the handle, carefully,
While the other produced her lens.

In a moment, the future would
Appear, bare as Susannah, stripped
Of scrutinized uncertainties.

The poet leaned a little in
And prayed for no interruptions.
What would the scientist predict?

What would the dark prophet foresee?
Could tea leaves change the poet’s lot?
Mmm. Lessee. Thearubigins,

Theaflavins, and catechins,
Murmured the scientist. I see.
The prophet shook his weary head.

This world ends on Friday, he said.
One or two poets glanced up. What?
Only the server looked relieved.

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