Syrian Coffee

I’m drinking my coffee

The label says “Hamwi Café — since 1951,

Damascus countryside, Syria”

I’m drinking my Syrian coffee,

I take it black and strong

Its bitterness is pleasing to my tongue

My nephew picked it up for me

From some airport in the Middle East

From Syria? Not likely…

Who’d want to go there now?

I’m drinking the coffee my nephew bought

in Jeddah, in Dubai or Abu Dhabi

But not in Damascus or Aleppo

Who wants to go there now?

I’m drinking and thinking

of the Syrian people

in their bombed-out cities,

In transit in some leaky boat,

Stuck at some muddy European border,

Behind the fence of a refugee camp

Or turned back at the airport.

I’m drinking this Syrian coffee

Does the factory still stand,

in the Damascus countryside?

The packet tells me cheerfully:

“Enjoy the taste of Hamwi Café!”

I think of the Syrian people

Their fate so black and bitter, so unpalatable.

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