The Café Filtre

by Paul Blackburn

Paul Blackburn

Slowly and with persistence
he eats away at the big steak,
gobbles up the asparagus, its
butter & salt & root taste,
drinks at a glass of red wine, and carefully
taking his time, mops up
the gravy with bread—
The top of the café filtre is
copper, passively shines back, & between
mouthfuls of steak, sips of wine,
he remembers
at intervals to
with the flat of his hand
the top removed,
at the apparatus,
create the suction that
the water will
fall through
more quickly

Across the tiles of the floor, the
cat comes to the table : again.
“I’ve already given you one piece of steak,
what do you want from me now? Love?”
He strokes her head, her
rounded black pregnant head, her greedy
front paws slip from his knee,
the pearl of great price
ignored . She’s bored, he
bangs the filtre again, its top is copper
passively shines back .
Food & wine nearly
He lifts the whole apparatus off the cup . Merciful
God, will it never be done? Too cold
to add cream and sugar, he offers the last
piece of steak with his fingers .
She accepts it with calm
even delicacy . The coffee goes down at a gulp, it
is black
& lukewarm .

The Selected Poems of Paul Blackburn (Persea Books, 1989)

Paul Blackburn's picture

Paul Blackburn is best known as a Black Mountain Poet because of his role as contributing editor and distributor of the Black Mountain Review: and his subsequent inclusion with the group in Donald Allen’s influential New American Poetry anthology (1960). Many unaware writers and critics fail to discern the complex forms, the sly intelligence, and the reserved elegance of that lyrical gift.... Blackburn was as socially and literarily accessible as lesser poets, and yet he was cut from the fabric of genius.

Last updated December 24, 2014