Dairy, soy, oat, cashew, almond, macadamia, rice, quinoa, coconut, hemp.
The half-filled cartons were all splayed out at the edge of the cafe counter
like forlorn empties, fallen soldiers amid the detritus of an evening of drunken revelry.
The stoop-shouldered barista groped, reaching toward the various milk options,
asked the customer again what exactly she wanted in her iced coffee.
Her retention of every little detail in an order weakened at the dregs of another shift.
She’d return to nurse the same bitter cup in this cafe tomorrow.
There was hardly enough caffeine in this place to power through.
She needed a little splash of milk to cut the acidity that ate away at her innards a little more every day.
Joseph S. Pete is an award-winning journalist, poet and the author of three local history books.