I Was Sitting Outside at 6 North Coffee

I bought tea for my friends
Shams and Rumi
Another intoxicatingly sunny day
70 degrees
They were cutting up the way they always do
But they could see in my eyes a request to quit horsing around.

“Friend Mark,” Rumi began, “Tell us what is on your mind….”

I knew how to ring their bell.

“Poetry,” I said, “poetry is on my mind.”

Well, at this, they both exclaimed: “Yes, yes, poetry!… we must have poetry, it’s been, what, two hours since we recited or heard a poem! Please!”

Steve came out for a couple of minutes, acted like he was just relaxing in the sunshine, but I know Rod must have sent him out to check on the three crazies, the itinerant adjunct prof (“with one foot in Seventh Heaven and the other in the deepest abyss”) and the two exuberant, poeticomaniacal Sufis. What did we care what the loft-dwellers thought of us and our exclamations and incantations?

“I didn’t write this–”

“Still, we must hear it!”

“–but I want to share it with you, because you guys might appreciate it.”

And so I began:

“It was but two hours till the sun would be bright
and in the red sky loom over the land of cities
Packed with men and women and children and
Discontent.”

Three minutes later, I finished.

Six eyes were soaked.

Then five minutes of silence passed.

Now, I knew the poet had major responsibilities, such as sociology tests, and errands, and taxi service, and filling two notebooks, but I could see what was imminent: Two middle-aged men who would soon be knocking on her door, begging to follow her around.

So I told them, “Now I don’t want you to creep her out.”

Shams blurted out, “No, no, Friend Mark, no creeping. But we must pay our respects. We are but amateurs–which means ‘lovers’ as I’m sure you know Friend Mark–and we must learn new vibrations of ecstasy from this Teacher.”

“OK,” I said. “I know this is asking the impossible of you two, but at least try, just a little, to keep it kind of chill, all right?”

“Yes, of course, chill we will!”

Rumi was happy.

–Autumn, 2009

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