Jeanette Powers

Coffee at Last

I never could understand
how when Grandpa’s mind went
and gave up his Holy Ghost
to Old Timers
he was just so

When he’d been such a rush
of business and brutality
and was known for that
through all of his life
when he’d judged so harshly
and baptized so fiercely
and preached damnation
and told me more than once
what waited for me
on the other side of this.

But now, he was just a man
watching his grandson
try to catch hummingbirds
and laughing
passing the casserole
of chicken and rice with peas
and walking the fields
with the family just listening
to everyone tell their tales.

After breakfast was cleared
he and I stayed the table
reading the Sunday paper
with the last of the coffee
he reached over
hand gnarled deep
skin translucent delicate
and gripped my arm
with the strength
of a hard life long lived.

I looked in his eyes
we held the whole of our pain
I think he needed to say
what I needed to hear:

I’m sorry I taught you how to suffer.


Jeanette Powers is a working class, non-binary poet living in the northern Missouri Ozarks. She can be heard on the Lawrence, Kansas episode of Risk! podcast and her latest poetry book is “Gasconade” by NightBallet Press. She heads the generative performance art venue, Arts Bar, in Kansas City and is a co-founding member of FountainVerse: Kansas City Small Press Fest which is an international, 3-day poetry festival in its third year. Follow her at or @novel_cliche