Ken Kakareka



I went to Starbucks one morning
during the week of Christmas
to write for a change.
A lit tree beamed
through the window
as I was walking in.
A small part of me
felt hopeful,
which is the best feeling
you can hope for
during Christmas time.
I hadn’t been acquainted
with civilization
for some yrs. –
the mountains are my home
But an obligation lured me
into town.
The drive-thru line
was a freight train.
I thought about making a joke 
to the barista,
but as I opened the door
and our eyes met,
the jolly warmth in my soul
She was a big, dark woman
and the color in her eyes
was sour.
“What would you like,”
she demanded
like she was Santa Clause
at the end of his shift
and I was a screaming,
nagging toddler
behind a long line of other
screaming, nagging toddlers
who already sat and pissed
on his lap.
“A small, hot coffee,”
I said, spitefully.
“You mean tall?”
“I mean small.”
Our eyes locked
until she rolled hers
and scoffed.
She spun the machine
at me
and fetched my coffee.
I inserted my card
but nothing happened.
She returned with the coffee.
“Can I have a packet of raw sugar?”
“Inside or out?”
“Just the packet.”
She scoffed again and fetched it.
“The machine isn’t reading my card.”
“Just give it a minute.”
I gave it 2.
An option to tip the barista
For doing her job, rudely?
I declined.
She scoffed again.
“Oh, and can I get a stirring stick, please?”
Her eyes really came after me
this time.
She marched away
and lifted 2 sticks
over the window
of the pickup counter.
“Down here!”
I am a short man.
She had a few inches
on me.
She held the sticks
just high enough
so that I had to
humiliate myself
on my tippy toes.
It was
a brilliant move.
I gave her this round.
In fact, I gave
all of civilization
this round.
I was rusty now
that I was a mountain man.
I found a table
and wrote this poem.
Then I got in my jeep
and said,
“Take me the hell home.” 

2 thoughts on “Ken Kakareka

  1. Another good one!! Great end line. I do love your poetry. Sparse, minimalist, to the point. So you’re a “mountain man”? I grew up in the southern Appalachian Mountains in north Georgia. Now I live in SC in a state forest. Maybe that’s why I enjoy your work. Mountains and forests. They get in your blood, don’t they? Definitely my “homeplace.”


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