Two Poets Cross at the Tuff Bean Cafe: Ryan Dowling & Basilike Pappa



“Let’s try this again,” said he.

“What’s there to gain?” said she.


“I could buy you a coffee,” said he.

“And lead to catastrophe?” said she.


“Look,” said he. “I’m sorry about the other day.”

“Good,” said she. “Then I’ll take a cafe au lait.”


“I like a woman who knows what she wants,” said he.

“I like a man who knows when he’s wrong,” said she.


“Shall we sit and talk it out?” said he.

“You read my thoughts out loud,” said she.


“I still feel your hand across my cheek,” said he.

“As do I the marks of your critique,” said she.


“But I like your style, your rhythm, your voice in verse,” said he.

“Then I suppose I like your choice of words,” said she.


“You know,” said he. “I’d love to rhyme you line for line.”

“That so?” said she. “You couldn’t keep up if you tried.”


Read Ryan Dowling’s work at

Ryan Dowling and me have never met in person. There has been no harsh critique and definitely no slapping between us. Nevertheless, when we put our imagination together, we came up with two poets who try to fix their strained relationship over a cup of coffee.

The idea of our collaboration was born when I read Ryan’s poem Mixed Strains. Its dialogue form was something new to me. Ryan directed me to May I Feel, Said He by e e cummings, which was the inspiration behind his poem.

I asked Ryan if he’d be interested in writing something like that with me: a poem that would bring us either glory or eternal literary damnation. Laughing in the face of intellectual danger, he jumped right in.

Ryan took no chances, though, when it came to turning our repartee into a poem. He proposed a back story for our characters, gave me his first “he” line and did a great job sharpening and polishing the lines I sent him as “she”. Two Poets Cross at the Tuff Bean Cafe owes a lot to his skill and commitment.


(Image: Pinterest)




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