My kitchen is blessed

with fruity scents of

Ethiopian Oromia,

the welcoming traces of

Chinatown Coffee Company,

that quick but so memorable

stop, back then,

on my daily walk

from Union Station

to my writing job in D.C.,

such a liberating escape

from the steel mill in



Mondays through Thursdays,

in my white shirt and tie,

I felt like an alien there,

among the hipster barristas,

their tattooed and pierced



I felt more comfortable on

Jean Fridays,

those patronizing accommodations

of tight-ass bosses

who couldn’t understand

we wrote better,

collaborated better,

when we weren’t dressed like the

preyed upon alter boys

of their youth.


I grasp my mug,

warming my hands,

still cold as the heat

comes on,

the radiator clanking.

And I wonder:


What has become of the

caffeine joint,

now four hours away,

the shop that symbolized

my transition

from blue to white collar,

the shop,


from the Irish pub

where cosmopolitans

hoisted their Guinesses

during World Cup matches,

the shop just up

from the intriguing herbal stores,

kept by Chinese elders

where white and black men in suits

lined up on Fridays,

big lovers seeking concoctions to

go harder and longer.


Opening my laptop,

I look for a tribute,

but I find an obituary:


“While the Wi-Fi wasn’t always consistent, the offbeat, independent Chinatown Coffee Company at 475 H Street N.W. brought the neighborhood an alternative to Starbucks that brewed with Chemex, siphon, pour-over and French press equipment. Evenings inside brought out pours of absinthe.”


“What a shame,” I say to myself,

emptying my cup.


Time to get on with my day,

clean my closet, and

finally figure out,

in my transition back to blue,

what the hell

I’m going to do with

all those

white shirts

and ties.