These Goddamn Robots are Gonna Kill Me

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Poetry  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: August 28, 2018

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Submitted: August 28, 2018

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I had to use the old vending machine.

The one in the back of the library,

In the old university cafe.

I went over there to get some coffee,

But the clerk girl was gone and closed up shop,

Pulled the gate around the counter, locked it.

She must’ve, I gave it a shake.

Apparently it closes early now.

In the summertime around four or five,

But I made it all down there so I felt

I really needed to get that coffee.

The machine said Expresso! on the front

In big brown letters, just shouted it out.

It sat along the coping in the corner

Of the corner of the library cafe,

But the janky, tin thing only took cash.

I stored my wallet in my front pocket.

It’s a haggard, cloth print pocket wallet.

Every seam is torn, the print’s been scraped off.

It’s full of old appointment reminders,

And my debit card always sneaks out.

But in it were a couple folded bills.

I pulled them out of their cozy home,

And with them that guilty feeling that comes

Most obviously from spending hard cash.

I shoveled that down into my stomach

And coaxed a one into the intake slot

Wishing the Expresso! would stop shouting.

It did once it gobbled up my dollar,

But it choked and spat it back onto the floor.

The box blinked, clicked at me mechanically

As I bent down and picked up my dollar.

On any other day I would have turned.

Left to lick my wounds, but it was late.

And I had long past the threshold of sense.

So I stacked my two dollars on top of each other.

Ironed them on a corner of the box.

Left right left right, flip, left right left again.

Then inspected the front facing menu

While I slipped each bill back into the slot

And hoped to distract the petty machine

From any fold I forgot to undo.

It took them begrudgingly with a whir,

And the little screen read two dollars of credit.

I mashed the code for coffee black

And the vendor shook with Frankenstein life.

It slid a paper cup down to the drawer.

Held it there with a pair of metal prongs

And piddled a steaming stream in the cup.

I knew it wouldn’t be strong, not nearly.

I saw straight to the bottom through the murk.

But, regardless, snatched the brew. I had to

Feel the paper cup’s warmth in my hands,

Watch the dust swirl round. Then I realized:

It was at least ten then.

The cafe would’ve been closed anyway.

I stood there with my coffee, took a sip,

Awash in the glow of that space age box

Ticking in the back of the library.

My stomach grumbled something foul and said,

“These goddamn robots are gonna kill me.”


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