David Galef


Bukowski in Starbucks

I am sitting in Starbucks, handling a double espresso,
the macchiato like pin-pricked velvet, bitter as Christ’s gall.
I am sitting in Starbucks, watching all the java go by,
enough to float a battleship or fill my morning pot.
I am sitting in Starbucks, doing what all the patrons aspire to.
I am scrawling a poem on a napkin.
I have sent it off to be published (I used to work at the post office).
I have made it all look easy, fame and fortune in every sip.


poem that’s a diminished thing
poem that shouldn’t mean but be
poem that takes itself too seriously
poem that just occurred to me
poem written between Second and Third Avenue
poem whose chances are a shoe-in
poem with a wry sense of humor
poem whose fragments I have shored against my ruin
poem that aspires to greatness
poem that’s a bit sentimental
poem entirely without prosody
poem that’s become inconsequential
poem of the month, three months running
poem hardly worthy of the name
poem that’s become rather dated
poem that’s just more of the same
poem that got rejected from The New Yorker
poem that loses its bearings halfway through
poem in imitation of Billy Collins
poem with nothing left to do
poem that’s a consolation for lost love
poem that’s better than sex
poem better off unread
poem about my ex
poem about Excelsior
poem on pied beauty
poem about the man on the dump
poem that merely does its duty
poem about a road not taken
poem on the apparition of faces in the crowd
poem about Daddy
poem that chews out loud
poem number sixteen in a series of fifteen
poem whose meter really needs mending
poem with doubts about the validity of its craft
poem that sort of lacks an ending


Over 100 of David Galef’s poems have appeared in magazines ranging from Shenandoah and Witness to The Yale Review and Literary Imagination, including Light, where he was featured poet in 2006. A shameless eclectic, he has published over a dozen volumes, including novels, short story collections, translation, and criticism, but also the poetry book Flaws, two chapbooks of verse, Lists and Apocalypses, and Kanji Poems (forthcoming in 2015). For obvious reasons, he hasn’t quit his day job. He is a professor of English and the creative writing program director at Montclair State University.