Seattle, Washington, United States
For those who love coffee, poetry, art, or stories - stay. Have a cup with us.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Manifesto

This is my revolution.

I am tired of the chains. The world wants to contain us. The human race is the ultimate control freak. We are compartmentalized, simplified, sorted, and segregated. We believe, as people, that this is our lot in life, this is the reason we were born: to be pulled apart. This attitude of indifference and fear of difference starts deep within each invidual person. We are afraid.

This is my revolution.

Some terrible things have happened in and around my family in the last few months. Life has gotten difficult, as life likes to do. But there is a deep joy in the heart of all people. I see it. There is a strength and a resilience. There is a light that is greater than the obstacles and oppression. We are not the sum total of our tears alone. Sorrow is only a piece - a very small piece - of what makes us who we are.

This is my revolution.

I will  not live alone. People, like coffee, are for sharing. I will not deny myself the beauty of others, and I will not deny others the beauty of myself. There is no strength in solitude. We are together in our fight against the prevading mindset of man, which would have us believe that we are alone in our struggles, that we are classified and categorized. We are not! We are together.

This is my revolution.

Alice Walker writes a profound thought in a poem called "I Know My Duty to Life":
I know
my duty
to life,

to stop
wars
especially
those
I cause
within
myself.

It is a struggle. There are wars and men with bombs who want to silence their opposition. There are fears and personal demons that want to squelch our strength. The fire is not for them to take. Be still the wolves and howl no more! This is our planet and these are our lives.

This is my revolution.

I will teach my children that there is beauty everywhere, that all life is sacred, that they are a piece of a big, surprising, messy and wonderful puzzle. They will be individuals because they deserve that much, at least. The world will not get its bloody hands on them and turn out their lights. Tears of joy will mark their cheeks. The earth will be alive for them to know and realize. Life will be beautiful.

This is my revolution.

I will break against the dam of disbelief. This is the world and I will savor each moment I spend living on it. I will be aglow, a roman candle, a beacon for those who need a little bit of light. We are people, strong like our coffee. Ready to face the dawn of a new day. It starts in the individual.

This is our revolution.

May your coffee be strong, your passions electric, and your laughter easy.
-michael

Enormous thanks to
my brilliant friend,
Megan Drews,
whose incredible drawing
inspired this post.

Monday, June 27, 2011

poetry monday: Streets

The following is my favorite poem by a brilliant Arab-American poet and the recipient of many accolades, awards, and fellowships. Many consider her one of the hidden gems of 21st century poetry.


Streets

A man leaves the world
and the streets he lived on
grow a little shorter.

One more window dark
in this city, the figs on his branches
will soften for birds.

If we stand quietly enough evenings
there grows a whole company of us
standing quietly together.
overhead loud grackles are claiming their trees
and the sky which sews and sews, tirelessly sewing,
drops her purple hem.
Each thing in its time, in its place,
it would be nice to think the same about people.

Some people do. They sleep completely,
waking refreshed. Others live in two worlds,
the lost and remembered.
They sleep twice, once for the one who is gone,
once for themselves. They dream thickly,
dream double, they wake from a dream
into another one, they walk the short streets
calling out names, and then they answer.

--Naomi Shihab Nye

Yours, in words and espresso.
-michael

Sunday, June 26, 2011

sunday sip: clouds

My brilliant and beautiful friend Nalani Saito and I were discussing dreams the other night. For a realist, she puts a lot of stock in dreams. For an idealist, I put just enough. Sometime in the course of the conversation, Nalani said something I had to share with all of you:

If our heads werent in the clouds every once in a while we wouldnt have any other perspective except for our range of vision. (--nalani saito)

I've been told I'm absent minded from time-to-time. I don't think that's true. I'm just not afraid of clouds. And I trust Nalani, so I guess that's a good thing.

Join me for a cup.
-michael

Thursday, June 23, 2011

of germans and skateparks

One of my closest friends is moving back to Germany this upcoming week. Yesterday, she and I had coffee, which was appropriate for several reasons. When we first met, we were in a coffee shop. It was awkward because she was afraid of speaking English to me and I had no idea what to talk about. But it was the beginning of a beautiful thing, nonetheless. Also, we both love coffee.

Saying goodbye to Fabienne was one of the hardest things I've done this year. But, as all of you know, I do not say goodbye anymore. It was "until next time." I was comforted by the fact that I will see her again very soon.

But it ran deeper than that. I knew - deeply, inately, soulfully - that Fabii and I aren't separate. The Atlantic Ocean is nothing more than a big, salty, pretentious lake. In this modern age of planes, trains, and automobiles, nothing ultimately separates us. But it got me thinking: before the airplane made it possible to circle the globe in a day, did any one really say goodbye? It reminds me of some of my favorite childhood books: The Little House on the Prairie series. After the Ingalls family left the Big Woods, Ma had to say goodbye to her parents forever. They would never see each other again before their deaths.

That is no goodbye. A daughter never says goodbye to her mother. They live in each other, in jokes, memories, recipies, dances, stories, songs, facial features. I think, in a way, we're all like that. We carry the Earth Family around inside of us. What makes us different brings us closer, and what brings us close keeps us from forgetting, leaving, losing each other. We are always together.

People sometimes give me odd looks when I talk like this. They expect that I've read Siddhartha one too many times (they are correct). But that isn't why I believe in a big Family called Human. I believe in it because I see it. I see it everywhere.

I work at my local community center. On Tuesdays, the second hour of my morning shift consists of whatever odd job my boss needs done that week. This week, it was the picking up of trash in the skate park on the community center grounds. My co-worker and I didn't have high hopes for that hour. But 45 minutes passed and not a single snivelly middle schooler had done or said anything rude to either of us. It was right about then that a red-haired kid threw a coke can at the fence (I was on the other side) and yelled: "Missed a spot!" I rolled my eyes and tried to reach through the fence.

Immediately, I heard ten seventh graders start yelling at their friend for making my job harder than it needs to be. One even came up and stuck the can through the fence for me. He held my gaze for a second. "I'm sorry, sir," he stammered. Then he ducked his head and retreated back to the bench he'd been sitting on.

I felt cared for by an unlikely crowd.

And what's to say the world isn't like that? People are the one element of nature that aren't governed by absolute laws and patterns of behavior. People are, at the very core of their beings, parts of a family.

And so I smile rather than frown when I think of Fabienne. It won't be long, yet. Family members don't stay away for long.

May your coffee be strong, your passions electric, and your laughter easy.
-michael

Sunday, June 19, 2011

sunday sip: dad

I wanted to take a moment to reflect on how incredible my father is. I've never met a more supportive, loving, understanding, and brave man. Or, at least, in sixteen years I've been unable to find anyone who comes close. Thank you, Dad - for everything.

And thank you to all of our fathers. Your lessons are some of the first we learn and they are the ones that follow us from year one to year one hundred.

Happy Fathers' Day!
-michael

Thursday, June 16, 2011

breaking rules today!

So, I am having a touch of writer's block today. But I figured that, instead of writing something absolutely ridiculous, I'd break all of my internet rules and put up one of my original poems.


Darwinian Love Poem

We began as two things,
two creatures,
two species, descended
risen
evolved from the ether
of the nature
& the law of attraction.
But we did not stay
in such
a rudimentary state.
No! Movement,
whether cellular or spiritual,
is the way of the world
& so we began our
race towards each other,
in opposite
directions, to the same point:
convergent evolution,
toward one version of ourselves
that we both understood
as us. But there is no end point
to life
(even death is
an evolution)
& so we stopped hurtling toward
a mass extinction of ourselves;
for there is no end to love if
life endures. Taking hands,
we learned the secret of
co-evolutionary
relationships: movement
in response to movement,
whith instigates movement
& change. Yes, we became,
not one thing, but two things,
two creatures,
two species -
symbiotic.
& this
is what Mother
must have
intended.

--Michael Abraham (May, 2011)

May your coffee be strong, your passions electric, and your laughter easy.
-michael

Monday, June 13, 2011

First of all, this is our 100th post!
Secondly, please enjoy one of my favorite poems by one of the world's finest poets.


Sunflower Sutra


I walked on the banks of the tincan banana dock and
sat down under the huge shade of a Southern
Pacific locomotive to look at the sunset over the
box house hill and cry.
Jack Kerouac sat beside me on a busted rusty iron
pole, companion, we though the same thoughts
of the soul, bleak and blue and sad-eyed,
surrounded by the gnarled steel roots of trees of
machinery.
The oily water on the river mirrored the red sky, sun
sank on top of final Frisco peaks, no fish in that
stream, no hermit in those mounts, just ourselves
rheumy-eyed and hungover like bums
on the riverbank, tired and wily.
Look at the Sunflower, he said, there was a dead gray
shadow against the sky, big as a man, sitting
dry on top of a pile of ancient sawdust -
- I rushed up enchanted - it was my first sunflower,
memories of Blake - my visions - Harlem
and Hells of the Eastern rivers, bridges clanking Joes
Greasy sandwhiches, dead baby carriages, black
treadless tires forgotten and unretreaded, the
poem of the riverbank, condoms & pots, steel
knives, nothing stainless, only the dank muck
and the razor-sharp artifacts passing into the
past -
and the gray Sunflower poised against the sunset,
crackly bleak and dusty with the smut and smog
and smoke of olden locomotives in its eye -
corolla of bleary spikes pushed down and broken like
a battered crown, seeds fallen out of its face,
soon-to-be-toothless mouth of sunny air, sunrays
obliterated on its hairy head like a dried
wire spiderweb,
leaves stuck out like arms out of the stem, gestures
from the sawdust root, broke pieces of plaster
fallen out of the black twigs, a dead fly in its ear,
Unholy battered old thing you were, my sunflower O
my soul, I loved you then!
The grime was no man's grime but deah and human
locomotives,
all that dress of dust, that veil of darkened railroad
skin, that sooty hand or phallus or protuberance
of artificial worse-than-dirt - industrial -
modern - all that civilization spotting your
crazy golden crown -
and those blear thoughts of death and loveless
eyes and ends and withered roots below, in the
home-pile of sand and sawdust, rubber dollar
bills, skin of machinery, the guts and innards
of the weeping coughing car, the empty lonely
tincans with their rusty tongues alack, what
more could I name, the smoked ashes of some
cock cigar, the cunts of wheelbarrows and the
milky breasts of cars, wornout asses out of chairs
& sphincters of dynamos - all these
entangled in your mummied roots - and you there
standing before me in the sunset, all your glory
in your form!
A perfect beauty of a sunflower! a perfect excellent
lovely sunflower existance! a sweet natural eye
to the new hip moon, woke up alive and excited
grasping in the sunset shadow sunrise golden
monthly breeze!
How many flies buzzed round you innocent of your
grime, while you cursed the heavens of the
railroad and your flower soul?
Poor dead flower? when did you forget you were a
flower? when did you look at your skin and
decide you were an impotent dirty old locomotive?
the ghost of a locomotive? the specter and
shade of a once powerful mad American locomotive?
You were never no locomotive, Sunflower, you were a
sunflower!
And you Locomotive, you are a locomotive, forget me
not!
So I grabbed up the skeleton thick sunflower and stuck
it at my side like a scepter,
and deliver my sermon to my soul, and Jack's soul
too, and anyone who'll listen,
- We're not our skin of grime, we're not our dread
bleak dusty imageless locomotive, we're all
beautiful golden sunflowers inside, we're blessed
by our own seed & golden hairy naked
accomplishment-bodies growing into mad black
formal sunflowers in the sunset, spied on by our
eyes under the shadow of the mad locomotive
riverbank sunset Frisco hilly tincan evening
sitdown vision.

--Allen Ginsberg (Berkely, 1955)

Yours, in words and espresso.
-michael

Sunday, June 12, 2011

sunday sip: Monster Fighting

One of my favorite songs is "Kill Monsters in the Rain" by the band Steel Train. The chorus of the song reads (well....listens):

Together we can. Together we'll kill monsters in the rain. We are the same.
What a mess you've made.

There is something about that sentiment that I absolutely love. I've always believed that we are, humans that is, united. Despite our differing races, religions, politcal views, genders, sexual orientations, places of origin, and unique stories, we are all moving toward the same goal: happiness and fulfillment. There is something inherently human in a crowd, an organization, a batallion, a club.

We must unite to fight off our monsters, be they personal, public, or soceital. Rain or shine.

Join me for a cup.
-michael

Saturday, June 11, 2011

a brief blurb on unity.

I was going through blog statistics the other day, and I came across a surprising fact. Apparently, Stronger Coffee has been accessed in the United States, Canada, in various European countries, India, the Middle East, and Asia.

I was unaware.

So I just wanted to thank my readers from other countries. I am glad we are united in this way. Also, if you read, but don't "follow", I'd love a comment or email (michaelabraham9@aol.com). I like to know who's connected.

Much love & coffee.
-michael

Thursday, June 9, 2011

my apologies

No entry this week, Coffee Lovers.

Studying for finals.

Keep the coffee flowing.
-michael

Monday, June 6, 2011

poetry monday: Away, Away

I had an amazing day out in the sunshine with my wonderful friends today. And all day long I thought about Percy Bysshe Shelley and his poem "To Jane: The Invitation".

Away, Away (From To Jane: The Invitation)

Away, away, from men and towns,
To the wild wood and the downs -
To the silent wilderness
Where the soul need not repress
Its music lest it should not find
An echo in another's mind.
While the touch of Nature's art
Harmonizes heart to heart.
I leave this notice on my door
For each accustomed visitor: -
"I am gone into the fields
To take what this sweet hour yields; -
Reflection, you may come tomorrow,
Sit by the fireside with Sorrow. -
You with the unpaid bill, Despair, -
You, tiresome verse-reciter, Care, -
I will pay you in the grave, -
Death will listen to your stave.
Expectation too, be off!
Today is for itself enough;
Hope, in pity mock not Woe
With smiles, nor follow where I go;
Long having lived on thy sweet food,
At length I find one moment's good
After long pain - with all your love,
This you never told me of."

Radiant Sister of the Day,
Awake! arise! And come away!
To the wild woods and the plains,
And the pools where winter rains
Image all their roof of leaves,
Where the pine its garland weaves
Of sapless green, and ivy dun
Round stems that never kiss the sun:
Where the lawns and pastures be,
And the sandhills of the sea: -
Where the melting hoar-frost wets
The daisy-star that never sets,
And wind-flowers, and violets,
Which yet join not scent to hue,
Crown the pale year weak and new;
When the night is left behind
In the deep east, dun and blind,
And the blue noon is over us,
And the multitudinous
Billows murmur at our feet,
Where the earth and ocean meet,
And all things seem only one
In the universal sun.

--Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792 - 1822)

Thank you to my friends for swimming, sunshine, laughter, music, jokes, and coffee.

Yours, in words and espresso.
-michael

Sunday, June 5, 2011

sunday sip: the perfect state of things

My brilliant friend Shreya (whose blog I want all of you to go read: http://stayepic.blogspot.com) alerted me to a beautiful quote.

When you realize how perfect everything is, you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky. -Buddha

That is how life is. It's difficult until we open our eyes. I've opened my eyes this week and I feel, for lack of a better word, lovely. Look, see the perfect state of things.

Then pour yourself a cup of coffee and have a nice giggle.

Join me for a cup.
-michael

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

howl no more

I'm frustrated, Coffee Lovers. I'm so incredibly, undeniably, inescapably frustrated.

I have always told people that I feel so blessed to have been born into the time period that I was. I still hold that opinion. However, I'm sick and tired of our culture's definition of beauty. I'm tired of looking at models who were created in computers. I'm tired of photoshop dictating how teenagers are supposed to feel about themselves. I'm tired of seeing "true beauty" movements go unheard and unnoticed because it's easier to hate ourselves.

To quote a poem I recently wrote: be still the wolves and howl no more!

America is broken in a way it has never been before. We pay millions upon millions of dollars to people whose sole job is to sell products by telling our daughters, sons, nephews, nieces, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends that they are not good enough. Actually, it's more insidious than that. The media's message isn't: "You're not good enough." The media's message is: "They are good enough."

I spent a lot of time talking with a friend about this today. The struggle to be beautiful, to feel good about yourself, to look "acceptable" - how painful. We must stop this. It's a cycle that will not make us strong. It will make us weaker and weaker and weaker. Just because we're beautiful doesn't mean we're invincible.

It is time to stop fearing and start living. It is time to stop judging and start loving. It is time to stop comparing and start experiencing. We are what we are and we look how we look. But we make the decision about how we feel and how we treat people of all shapes, colors, creeds, and cultures.

You are beautiful. Don't let the wolves tell you anything different.

May your coffee be strong, your passions electric, and your laughter easy.
-michael