Ode to Coffee

In the Form of a Haiku

Robyn Sinead Sheppard
2 min readMar 16, 2024
Portrait of Japanese poet and judge of poetry Karai Hachiemon, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Portrait of Japanese poet and judge of poetry Karai Hachiemon, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

My cup is empty.
It was full, and now it’s not.
It needs a refill.

Okay, so it’s not really a haiku. More accurately, it’s a Senryū.

“Senryū tend to be about human foibles while haiku tend to be about nature, and senryū are often cynical or darkly humorous while haiku are more serious.” (Senryū — Wikipedia)

The Senryū above looks simple enough: Three lines that could have been dashed off without any thought. And you’d be correct in that assumption, were it not for the fact that while it started out that way, it took me about 30 minutes to get it exactly how I wanted it.

The last line — It needs a refill — started out as I need a refill. But then I realized it didn’t go with the first two lines, which were about the cup itself. The last line was about me, which had nothing to do with the first two lines. By replacing me with it fit better — and more in the spirit of the poem.

Whenever I try to write a haiku, I try to get into a certain mood. I meditate, and then enjoy a cup of tea. I’ve never been into green tea, so my choice is a strong black Assam, usually an Irish or Scottish breakfast blend.

Had I done that this morning, my poem would have been entirely different. It would have been a deliberate effort. Instead, my coffee inspired this off-the-cuff effort.

Oh, shit! Coffee’s gone!
Now what? Better write a poem!
Ba deep, that’s all, folks! (Another five minutes.)

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Robyn Sinead Sheppard

A happily retired technical writer, I write in order to understand what I'm thinking. I'm walking wounded from the Sexual Revolution.