Café Venezia

Cappuccino Rue

We have come to open up the morning
like a newspaper
just like the one in the hands
of the red-bearded man
sitting 6 feet in front
of me

He sips coffee
& the paper quivers
words fly off the page and
circle the room

The front window glows with light

Across the street a city bus
swallows three men
crawls toward the intersection
and wheels away

Outside this café
two women are sitting
under a white umbrella
emblazoned with the words “San Pellegrino”

I think of white beaches in yellow sun,
white cathedral spires in a reddened sky,
and the perfect white teeth of the dark-skinned man
who tried to sell me a blue sweater
in Florence 28 years ago.

It is 9 o’clock
I am not smoking
in the smoking section

Two blue-suited policemen
are sitting at the next table
drinking cappuccino
& talking about boat engines

The walkie-talkie strapped
to the waist of the younger one
mutters instructions
but not to them

Their badges shine

Up on the wall, the radio
is trying to tell me about the war
on the other side of the ocean

A reporter is saying:

50 children under the age of 4
climbing into an old city bus
two women walking up & down the aisle
tying the youngest
to the seats

The driver had papers

Not far away
outside of town
the soldiers lay waiting

Now, the reporter is describing the blood
the shattered glass
the bus shuddering to a halt

He is speaking these words
into a microphone
& they are streaming out in invisible waves across
the dreaming waters of the world
to be caught
and amplified by the small black box
on the wall of this café

It is still early in the morning
I have one whole day

I will keep my eyes open


Posted on

June 19, 2014


  1. Aloka

    OMG! Beautiful! Beautiful! Beautiful! Absolutely perfect!
    Love you for doing this–for writing, for getting this website together, for spreading the joy that one gets on reading your poetry. This is the best gift you can give to the world! I am so overjoyed, so happy! 🙂

  2. Anna

    Such amazing imagery! Thank you Ruelaine, what a feast, reading your poetry! I hope you will soon post the one about the international students and the shirt you wear. (You’re like the awesome rock star, and I’m the person in the audience shouting out your hits “do this one”!)

    • Ruelaine Stokes

      I’m so happy you like this poem. . . It is such an amazing thing to be alive in this beautiful yet suffering world. Poems somehow make it easier for my heart to bear the burden. . . . I’m laughing about the image of me as “rock star.” Tho maybe we all have our “rock star moments.”

  3. Jj

    Super start! And the poems –wonderful to read.
    I like the cafe –0pening like a newspaper. and the river one–the starkness and the loneliness.
    This is a well crafted website, so easy to navigate.


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