The Half-Full Cup


Much, much later, you will reflect.
You will think back, to how it all depended;
how so much depended, on the trajectory
of the contents of the half-full cup of coffee,
that you, unthinking, uncaring,
had flung out of the second-floor window.

How it must have dispersed, in the breezy
summer air.  And yet how, miraculously,
it retained much of its force, for the impact
of landing – SPLAT! – on the head of the
unfortunate person below.

How you saw your life, at that time,
as a glass half-full.

How, even now, you fail to see
how that half-full glass has emptied.

My poem “The Half-Full Cup” is – I have to shamefacedly admit – inspired by a real incident.  It happened a long time ago, and, although there were some immediate, physical repercussions, I am relieved to report it did not have any long-term consequences.  It was only recently that, as I was mulling over various aspects of my life that I had not yet written about, I suddenly saw how the incident could become the source for a poem.

Well-read lovers of modern verse might find the third line “how so much depended . . .  reminds them of something.  I can save them from scratching their heads in frustration by informing them that they are probably thinking of “The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams; one of the best-known – and most enigmatic – of modern poems:

so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white


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