The first fall drizzle blew into Fayetteville this weekend, and though it wasn’t yet cold enough to kindle the fireplaces, someone in the neighborhood tried. The smoke came wafting down the road and through my open window. There is a gathering up in Autumn, and not of leaves. I smell it in the fires and allspice, in the way people begin practicing the hunker down of winter.
On Saturday I visited one of my favorite local establishments, Arsagas Espresso Café. Arsaga’s is the coffee house of my law school days, the days of red-eye beverages and case fact diagramming. It’s my fall dive, but this Saturday I visited with lighter reading material—the latest edition of Harper’s folded under my arm. I asked the barista whether there might be a tea she would recommend and without hesitation she said, “Lapsang Souchong. It tastes like the weather.” I ordered it and she set the tea to steeping in a small tea pot.
I am a firm believer in giving credit where credit is due, so this next part is very important. Arsaga’s exclusively brews teas from The Republic of Tea. I noted this is as I sat at my table and opened Harper’s to the piece about President Reagan’s Pinko Commie witch hunting spree that started in the 1940s. I took my first sip and, with all due respect to Harper’s, I could not read another word. This tea was bold and smoky, rich and reminiscent of a fall bonfire, of sweater weather, of the semester that I fell in love with my wife-to-be.
This was a moment for a journal, but caught without mine I made due. Harper’s open, I exploited the margins and penned a found poem using some of the words from Seth Rosenfeld’s Reagan piece entitled “The Great Communicator.”
Ronald Reagan’s FBI file
(they keep a file on us all, you see)
betrays a commitment to witch burnings
to commie crucifixions.
I am ignorant of these kinds of fires, but
I know the fire that hides in Chinese tea,
that makes memories most realized
return for different seasons.
I apologized under my breath to Mr. Rosenfeld and closed Harper’s. The coffee shop was filled with college students, doe-eyed kids who do not yet know the power of this moment. One day, though, memories of the bygone drizzle will blow in on the Autumn wind. When that happens, when they hearken back, I hope they can say that they discovered a few things that make life worth living.
Today’s found poetry prompt: today’s found poetry prompt may make a few of you head for the hills. Are you willing to sacrifice a good magazine, journal, or book for the cause? Tea (or coffee) in hand, find an article or piece that evokes some poetry, then go for it! Play with the article’s words, add your own, find a poem in the pages and write it out. And, as the theme for the month goes, make sure you include a reference to tea or coffee. For bonus points, take a picture and email it to us at @tspoetry. We’ll retweet it to the world (or at least our followers)!
Now, let’s brew some creativity!
Tweetspeak’s September Tea For Two Prompt
This month’s found poem theme at Tweetspeak is Tea for Two, and we’re using words and phrases from tea (or coffee) related products as the prompt (or if you’d like to participate in today’s prompt, words from a magazine, book, or journal). We’d love you to join with is. How do you participate?
1. Look through your pantry and grab some tea or coffee packages, or any other tea or coffee related products you may have in your house.
2. Arrange a found poem containing words from the products (or mark up a magazine as above). Make sure your poems touch on themes of tea or coffee.
3. Tweet your poems to us. Add a #tea42 hashtag so we can find it and maybe share it with the world.
4. If you aren’t a twitter user, leave your found poem here in the comment box.
5. Each week we’ll share a few of the poems. At the end of the month, we’ll choose a winning poem and ask the winner to record his or her poem to be featured in one of our upcoming Weekly Top 10 Poetic Picks.
Last week, Donna wrote about sadness and loss, how she remembers it in the smell of cardamom tea. She writes:
i cannot bring myself
to even buy the seeds
to brew the tea
in an open saucepan
the way she did,
cardomom seeds swirling
and bursting with aromatic love
and missing her
swells in my throat
with simply the thought
of this fragrant delicious memory
Christine Boldt writes an ironic little piece about the tea featured in today’s post, lapsang souchong. In “Slow Learner,” she muses:
I shall re-microwave yesterday’s tea,
Convince myself that it doesn’t taste flat,
For it’s Lapsang Souchong as fine as can be.
I shall re-microwave yesterday’s tea.
I could make a fresh pot. I have twenty three.
But I’m studying Zen, can’t take time for all that.
I shall re-microwave yesterday’s tea,
Convince myself that it doesn’t taste flat.
Thank you for all your submissions. Now…who’s first this week?
Photo and post by Seth Haines.