Wednesday, May 8, 2013


Coffee rings overlapping one atop the other
marking the table which carefully held mugs
that flowered hearts once flowed into.
The many great plans and pains
those rings retained as they worked
their way deeper into the wooden grain
of that polished sawn flat yet well-worn plain.
The lives of couples plans for days ahead
as they spoke of love one to the other.

The many napkin mapped ideas
of many a positive merry businessman
using everything from cartridge
to counter borrowed ball point pens.
All the great groups of plans
to find a way to grow rich enough
to comfortably retire with money enough put away
long before the infirm time of riding
to days of their getting too old, bald and gray
as earners providing for families at their side.

More than plans passed those coffee stain rings
had been traded over that worn lacquered wooden surface
that if only it could talk about the great many days
with its plenty happy sad story; what a song it could sing.
The tales of love and hate, wars, death and fate;
the off color comments few condemned as cold,
because they were inside jokes that laid more than few
in laughter prostrate as they gathered as friends.
over a tabletop that grew new to old toward its own end.

As time passed without the table
having anything to ask or say
about holding many a friendly game
where pals squared off to play
using the well-worn with some corners torn
deck of cards honestly dealing
 (except in euchre
where it’s only cheating
if you get caught deal stealing.)

The many teenage dramas seen
that in the end their meaning
meant little more than nothing.
But at the time were so terror fraught
that the young were certain life was ending.
They too laughed and cried real heartbroken tears,
their fears just as real as the spent older couples
who shared scalding hot cups of joe there
who knew that time was stealing from them
the hard earned fair share, that as they aged
and broke down as government was taking from them
all they worked for, all they struggled to save.
Yes if that old table, varnish cracked and mellowed
with its multiple permanent coffee mug ring stains
could talk the many stories it could tell all 
the sat down at people stories ghostly remains
of everything it had earned and knowledge learned.
But no one paid it any mind
as it gathered the dust from lives collected
from the passing history of time
and no one who noticed  or complained
when that thing was broken apart and discarded.
As it was replaced without regard
by an easier to clean Ikea plastic slick topped
piece of furniture which with every wipe
the history that had just happened there
marked in stains was simply with a wet cloth
wiped away and rinsed down the drain.

© M Durfee


  1. Well done Mark. I don't know how you do it but I'm damned sure glad you do.

  2. makes me think of those places that hold special memory, like a restaurant or coffee shop, which are then replaced by a bank or...and taking those well worn tables away....all those stories gone...nicely done sir...

  3. I agree with Mr. Charleston. You pull these amazing pieces out. This piece especially reminded me of stories I've been told about objects holding energy. Not sure if you believe in this - but I do believe in residual hauntings - like an empty and abandoned school, where you can still hear the lockers shutting and kids talking and laughing over one another. They're not actual ghosts - they're the true "hauntings" of life itself ingrained in the objects that held them for so long, again and again --- repetition. I hope that made any sense at all. I loved this piece.

  4. This is so rich and so sad and so beautifyl... Yet, this is life, and the last line will apply very well to all of us.

  5. I loved loved loved this. I always think the items we use all the time hold more than memories...but hold the thoughts and feelings expressed. Yes, the kitchen table is such a wealth of memories and shared events...and the place where we still gather in my house to share and commiserate and laugh. This was beautiful, Mark.

  6. "As it was replaced without regard
    by an easier to clean Ikea plastic slick topped
    piece of furniture...." I can't think of a sadder ending!

  7. I often wonder that when I look at old tables. Last weekend we were in a friend's garage. She told me that whenever her kids move, she collects more of their furniture - some of it new, some of it old. I wondered what stories those tables, chairs, desks, and lamps would tell.

    And would we listen.

    Brilliant piece Mark!


  8. Kitchen tables . . . if only they could talk -- arguments, beer spills, chips, beef soup, coffee stains, sanding out the cig burns, crosswords, hopes for the future, regrets for lost pasts, oak surfaces with polyurathane, lives passing and pausing for a bit -- (picture every kitchen table you have ever sat alongside and picture the place).
    Nice idea -- broke open many visions.

  9. This piece I totally enjoyed. Very well-written. I think we have all had one of those tables.

  10. I like the idea of houses and pieces of them having stories. Some of the furniture here dates to the 1700's. I wonder at how many hands touched those pieces. Sometimes I feel surrounded by the ghosts of others.


So Walking Man I was thinking...