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In praise of joe
by
Marge Piercy


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I love you hot
I love you iced and in a pinch
I will even consume you tepid.

Dark brown as wet bark of an apple tree,
dark as the waters flowing out of a spooky swamp
rich with tannin and smelling of thick life—

but you have your own scent that even
rising as steam kicks my brain into gear.
I drink you rancid out of vending machines,

I drink you at coffee bars for $6 a hit,
I drink you dribbling down my chin from a thermos
in cars, in stadiums, on the moonwashed beach.

Mornings you go off in my mouth like an electric
siren, radiating to my fingertips and toes.
You rattle my spine and buzz in my brain.

Whether latte, cappuccino, black or Greek
you keep me cooking, you keep me on line.
Without you, I would never get out of bed

but spend my life pressing the snooze
button. I would creep through wan days
in the form of a large shiny slug.

You waken in me the gift of speech when I 
am dumb as a rock buried in damp earth.
It is you who make me human every dawn.
All my books are written with your ink.

From The Crooked Inheritance.
 © Alfred A. Knopf, 2006. 
Used with the author's permission.

 

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Marge Piercy is the author of multiple books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction; a new poetry collection called The Hunger Moon is due out in February 2011. Marge holds several honorary doctorates and is a popular speaker on college campuses, having taught, lectured, and/or performed her work at more than 350 universities around the world. Born in Detroit, Marge now lives in Cape Cod with her husband and several cats. She writes, teaches an occasional poetry workshop, and is an enthusiastic gardener. Visit her website at http://www.margepiercy.com.

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