bitter coffee

you were the cream and i was the coffee

i kept you awake at any hour of the day

the sugar was love

i piled it on, i tried to stay sweet

but you didn’t see

so the cream went away

and stopped showing up every morning

and started mixing with tea instead

well, things got darker a few shades

and when you left everyone noticed

but my love for you stayed



i fell for you the way a cloud moves with no wind, slowly

you had sweaters i, at first, would always compliment

then later wanted to wake up in. you were my blind spot

too busy looking ahead to see you by my side, the whole time

i learned to fall in love with green circles and the sound of static

428 miles were reduced to a few seconds of ringing before your voice

from midnight missing you’s and locking ourselves in our rooms

you felt like a cold computer screen with a warm smile

minutes turned into hours, hours turned into looking up

the price of a bus ticket to New York in December

i called you mine, and my mom called you family

we made plans for a life together without ever once hugging

you’ve comforted my crying with no need for a shoulder

we agreed maybe when we’re older, we’d try to make “us” happen

but poor connections, low batteries, and dropped calls interfered


time to read

i haven’t had much time to read lately

oh, but if i did i would scan every page twice

i would analyze every word, delicately,

pressing violets as bookmarks between

her palms and her thighs alike

i would breathe in her margins and

smell home, the coffee she sat by

i would wipe the dust off her jacket

lie back and ask her, this time,

if would she like to stay awhile.


Vivian Isabel is a junior at Mary Baldwin University pursuing a degree in English, as well as her Master of Arts in Teaching. She hopes to teach English and Theatre at her old high school, while writing a bit on the side. She has previously been published in issues two and five of the White Ash Literary Magazine and volumes 8.2 and 9.1 of Outrageous Fortune. The majority of her works are inspired by real events and people in her life. She is optimistically in the progress of writing two anthologies, encompassing her Cambodian-American culture and previous experiences in love.