When I think of Columbus, I’ll think of coffee shops,
of raspberry lattes and cinnamon pourovers.
I’ll think of scolding first tastes and cool final drops,
of caffeine beating hangovers, the wind over the river.
And on top of the taste I’ll perhaps hear music playing,
guitars strummed on city sidewalks as downtown wakes;
of myself sat on pavements listening, and drinking
from a cardboard coffee cup even though it’s nine.
I didn’t drink coffee because I was tired or yawning;
I drank it because I didn’t know where else to be.
Sleepy Columbus, dazed days and a coffee morning,
coffee evenings, coffee months, coffee semester still.
I taste caffeine and I think of the weekly open-mic night,
then of three friends singing a Justin Bieber song, still ‘Sorry’
or that same Taylor Swift track, never done quite right,
sparking high pitched screams and shop-round laughter.
I wanted to request Wonderwall for some reason, as if
it was some English obligation, the song everyone knows.
I sung it in New Orleans, drunk on the day of St Patrick
but in Columbus I never could, and I was alright with that.
I ended up being alright with everything in Columbus,
it was easy to be that way, because it was easy living.
I became ‘Craig from England, who never wanted a fuss,
the tourist passing through town with a coffee cup in hand.
Three main coffee shops, all spread in littered locations,
and I frequented all of them, became a reliable regular.
Louder times at Margarita Nights, Mexican persuasions –
or nights in bars, ‘The Tap,’ teaching Indians to play pool.
Midday walks to the nearest mall, dollar cinemas on a dime
before sudden thunderstorms watched from a front porch step,
shaking bedrooms, the neighbour’s dog howling, terrified.
I was from Manchester, so I was used to the noise of it all.
Riverwalk cycles and a sunburn semester, rays beamed onto tar
painting my handlebar knuckles bright red, preventing sleep
(unless that was the coffee, the taste teasing me from afar)
in my home away from home; number one choice from four.
You never expect to miss a place until it’s too far gone.
I miss Columbus, I miss the people there, I miss beer pong,
I miss canned cocktails, basketball games we always won.
I miss having an interesting accent. I should have sung a song.
Columbus, May 2016