Found Letter from the Cute Barista Girl to the Male Poet

by Cynthia French

I found your poem.
That one you performed at the poetry slam.
That you posted to YouTube.
That your friends tagged me in on Facebook.
That you left inconspicuously on the table
under the tea service you neglected to bus
despite the signs posted everywhere
asking patrons to “please bus your own dishes.”

I guess you wanted me to find it
but weren’t ballsy enough to just
hand it to me yourself.

You know the one,
pretty much the same as all the poems
all the other poet boys have written
to all the other cute barista girls
since the dawn of time. Or at least
since the dawn of espresso machines
and cute barista girls.

But yours was different.

The way you captured my cuteness
with the word “cute,” and nailed the color
of my eyes with the adjective “espresso-colored.”
How original you are poet boy!
Just like a skim vanilla latte, you are.

You should know skim vanilla lattes are not original.
I make at least twenty-seven of them every shift.
Skim milk has no body to it. It’s pretty much water.
So you’re kind of like a watered-down,
artificially sweetened cup of coffee.

How’s that metaphor-ya?

Also, my eyes aren’t brown.
And I’ve never seen a hazel espresso bean.
And calling me cute isn’t cute.
Puppies are cute. Me, I’m fierce.
I’m more avalanche than baby chihuahua,
More dangerous than a pitbull,
Snottier than a pug, and, in case you hadn’t noticed,
I walk on two legs.

I did not put vanilla in your mocha because
I must have sensed you liked it that way.
That shit was not fate.
It’s our secret recipe.
And I’ll probably get fired for telling you.

I know having your order memorized
makes you feel special,
but I have everyone’s order memorized.
It’s kind of like … my job.
Which is what this is. A job.

I don’t come to the library
Or the cubical at your temp job
Or your mother’s basement
to spy on you
while you’re “working on your poetry.”

I am not waiting for the day
you finally get up the courage
to tell me you think I’m cute.
I’m waiting for the day you might
tip me more than a quarter.

Seriously, this poor poet thing is played out.

I know how much you spend
on coffee and muffins and soup each week.
Buy a can of Campbell’s
and leave me a dollar next time.

Then maybe I’ll notice you
or something.
But probably not.

I got my eye on the androgynous punk
behind the deli counter down the street.
I like the way they cut my meat.

It’s real cute.




When you decide to eat the whole pizza
because leaving just one or two pieces
just doesn’t make sense at the time.

When you squeeze in dessert
because the sweetness dances
in your mouth like joy.

When you get so full
the thought of moving anything
proves a dangerous task.

You turn defensive
become overly cautious
an inflated balloon in a field of porcupines.

I’ve been eating up stories for years
cramming them into memory
until the drawers jam shut.

There’s a bench seat in my bedroom
packed by a tetris engineer
with journals and diaries and albums

It’s overwhelming
worrying I’ll pick the wrong place to start
that I won’t be able to fit it all back in

That I’m all types of carnival dart
crooked aim sloppy toss
Three attempts for a dollar.





               ~For Marty

When you’re dead,
the things you were working on
before just lay there,

It’s easy with poems
Any editor could come along
and throw them together chronologically
and make an anthology.

But it’s different with old cars.
Sure, someone could come along
and finish rebuilding that Volkswagen van,
but it won’t be yours anymore.

It will just be a Volkswagen van
that somebody finished rebuilding.
Nobody will remember
that you finished the dashboard,

the care that you put into it.
And oh, the plans you had for upholstery.
Those decisions will go to someone else.
Like the girlfriend you decided not to marry.

Wedding fantasies shared over
park benches in London.
None of it will matter.
It wasn’t yours to begin with.




I am an avid house cleaner
one drop of dust, and I pounce.
I practice only what I preach
especially when it comes to cuticle care.
I paint my nails at least three times a day.
It’s not because I’m indecisive about color,
I just enjoy the process.
And the smell of acetone.
I don’t care what you think of me.
I’ll wear the gold lame cat suit
if it suits me.
I own two of them.
They remind me of the Oscars
and my love for awards shows.
I never miss them.
Especially when animals are involved.
I spend my free time at zoos.
You’ll find me with the ostrich.
Or ostriches, if you prefer.
I did not have to look up the plural
for ostrich to know
just how much we have in common.



In the Details



The best April Fool’s Day joke I ever played
was the year I called my mother and told her
I’d gotten married over spring break
at the Elvis Chapel of Love in Graceland.

She was pissed.

Not so much that I’d gotten married,
but that I’d gotten married without her.
The Elvis theme.  The guitar shaped pool
at the hotel.  Chili Cheese fries for dinner.

None of that mattered.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t believe
anything I say.  I’m just saying that I once
had a boyfriend who offered to finance my poker career,
because of my ability to keep a straight face.

Now he was a good liar, but horrible at cards.

I will do everything I can to protect you
from my feelings.  My disappointment.
I’m horrible at remembering jokes.
But so good at finding things to make you laugh.