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Illustration by Jessica Garza

The delicious aroma of coffee —
I like my coffee black. When I pour
another cup, I radiate caffeine.

Pouring yet another, coffee
soothes me, like a cranky baby
soothed by a full breast.

A morning cup of java, a cup of Joe.
My eyebrows shoot up
when the coffee shouts, Wake Up!

The coffee’s bossiness awakes me
to the prison day. I drink it fast,
lest an inmate ask me for a drink.

Espresso, Latte Art, or simply
black, coffee, the simplest thing
is precisely why it’s so complex.

I drew a picture of us having coffee
off the highway at The Backwoods Cafe.
It hurts to trade memories for Folger’s.

Work of art in French Vanilla,
pink roses in swirls of vines and
the cup’s French-curl finger-stem.

My eyes lingered on your ladyfingers,
how you held your lipstick-stained cup.
I wanted to taste your porcelain kiss.

The cafe’s song, La Vie en Rose,
conjured French rose-colored sidewalk
cafes, and Paris, rose-colored always.

Prison, on the other hand, is always grey.
My old prison coffee-cup is made of tin,
stained and dented from rattling the bars

Whenever the guards act up. prison-kitchen
coffee, made with chicory, makes for a
bitter cup, so unlike fancy sugar with cream.

What a delicious jolt of fresh hot
coffee! My gentle blow to cool a sip.
The prison coffee I drink is black.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

Jessica Garza is a writer and artist incarcerated in California.