My first sip of coffee is sweet

That’s a lie
The first sip isn’t sweet
But with the first sip
Everything else just
Smacks of sweet
I’m just saying
My first sip says
Life is sweet
The second sip says
That was then
Third sip
Toughen up mister
The last sip is
Strong bitter cool
And I get to thinking
I remember reading
Iron and Silk by Salzman
About the author’s time in China
Teaching English
And learning Kung Fu
Under Pan Qingfu
He was instructed
To learn to taste bitter
For some reason
I conflate Salzman’s story
With the plot of
Good Morning Vietnam
Robin Williams plays
The unruly Adrian Cronauer
I think both protagonists
Left behind an Asian lover
Don’t correct me if I’m wrong
It is because I am 69
That everything is
Pouring into one stream
And that has even happened
With sweet and bitter
Sometimes bitter
Tastes sweet
And sweet bitter
But mostly it’s just
This whole thing
Is a love story when
We leave I mean we
Leave that taste behind

John Beans at