What I should have learned from my summer as a waiter but didn’t

is to always ask
“Is it fresh?” before ordering
decaf drip coffee
anywhere

because I have forgotten
this important inquiry
several times in the past
weeks and subsequently suffered
the wrath of stale, burnt,
generally foul and specifically
rancid versions of a cup of
decaf which really is more
of a daily vitamin than a beverage
or the vice which I sometimes allow
myself to believe is a problem

the caffeine was the problem
with the belly and the bowels
and now, with each missed
opportunity to ask the approximate
age of the mysterious dark liquid (which by some chemical miracle has had
it’s psychoactive properties removed)
unseen within the pump-top urn
a small-scale war is waged
between the caffeinated world
and the decaf drinker
forever at risk of the danger
of the contents of an orange-topped
urn, brewed
and forgotten
unless someone asks
for a fresh pot

today that someone
was not me
but i hope,
for my sake and the intestinal tracts
of people like me,
i remember tomorrow to ask
“is it fresh?”

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