Brow Beat

The Love Song of J. Howard Starbucks

An extreme closeup of the eyes of the siren on the Starbucks logo.
“Only you, only you can, you are unique at last.”
Starbucks Coffee

Io non so s’i’ mi fui qui troppo folle,
ch’i’ pur rispuosi lui a questo metro:
“Deh, or mi dì: quanto tesoro volle
Nostro Segnore in prima da san Pietro
ch’ei ponesse le chiavi in sua balìa?
Certo non chiese se non “Viemmi retro.”

Let me run, then, you’ll get paid,
Though the public may respond to my crusade
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, to certain half-deserted states,
Monotonous debates,
To restless nights in luxury hotels
And toothless interviews with empty-shells:
Help repackage all my tedious arguments
Hide insidious intent
And lead me to a self-inflicted thrashing …
Oh, do not ask, “Why do it?”
When they boo I’ll tweet right through it.

In the room consultants come and go
Talking about my ratio.

The income tax that rubs its back upon my balance-sheets,
The income theft that rubs its muzzle on my balance-sheets,
Licked its tongue into the corners of my wallet,
Lingered upon my write-offs and receipts,
Let fall upon its back the coins inside my pockets,
Slipped by accountants, scoffed when I cried cheap,
And seeing that I was astonishingly rich
Taxed me at rates so high I couldn’t sleep.

And indeed there will be time
For an income tax designed to please the Street,
The kind that will not touch our bank accounts;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces I will meet;
There will be time to murder and deflate
The public works and deals of green,
There’s nothing that we can’t triangulate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred bad decisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before declaring my candidacy.

In the room consultants come and go
Talking about my ratio.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to avoid answering Trump’s prayer,
Live the modest lifestyle of the average billionaire —
(They will say: “How did you think this would go?”)
My self-penned book, my centrist’s love of firmly saying no,
My policies are secret, but they’re grounded in the status quo —
(They will say: “But the whole planet’s gonna blow!”)
Do I dare
To run for President?
This election is the time
For decisions and revisions that can never be reversed.

For I have owned it all already, owned it all:
Have owned a business, ball teams, juice saloons,
I have gathered up my wealth with coffee spoons;
Heard SuperSonics dying with a dying fall
Sold them to Oklahoma sports tycoons.
              So how should I presume?

And I have owned a staff already, owned them all—
A staff to poll-test every formulated phrase,
And when they are formulated, scribbled on my skin
If ink gets smudged and then I can’t recall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the bull-shit from my quacks and flacks?
              And how should I presume?

And I have owned the proles already, owned them all—
Proles that serve pumpkin spice in every size
(But if those motherfuckers unionize!)
Was it turning upper crust
That made me union bust?
Proles to solve discrimination, from venti down to tall.
              And should I then presume?
              And how should I begin?

Shall I say, I have gone to high-class meet and greets
And heard the cry that rises from the throats
Of heartless men with trust funds, fighting single payer? …

I should oppose the marijuana laws,
Shuttle in crowds the size of AOC’s.

And the audience, in Austin, sleeps so peacefully!
Resting their keisters,
Asleep … tired … or Communistas?
South by Southwest was South by Rude to me.
Should I, after boos and skepticism,
Have the wherewithal to define socialism?
But though I have hired consultants, highly-paid,
Though I have seen myself (in happy dreams) take the elect’ral college,
I’m just a rich guy — and have no great knowledge;
I have seen my presidential campaign flicker,
And I have seen the Trevor Noahs read my tweets, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cracks, the mockery, the glee,
Among millennials, among some talk of policy,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off their laughter with a smile,
To have squeezed my coffee cup into a ball
And thrown it at the jerks who asked me questions,
To say: “I am Howard Schultz, rich and grotesque,
I’m running to forestall, Medicare for All”—
If one, sitting behind an anchor desk
              Should say: “That did not go well at all;
              That was not it, at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the speeches and the conference and the ratio’d tweets,
After the profiles, after the TV, after the polls that tumble through the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
No one will like me if I say just what I mean!
But as if an unpaid intern threw my thoughts in bullets on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, reading a prompter or riffing on my fall,
And turning toward the camera, should say:
              “That is not it, at all,
              That is not what we want, at all.”

No! I’m no politician, nor was meant to be;
Am an ex-CEO, one that will do
To swell a coffer, start a PAC or two,
Host fundraisers; make calls, a party tool,
Self-important, flattered to be asked,
Connected, cautious, very delicate;
No good ideas, but donations maxed;
I’d make a perfect superdelegate—
Which is to say, a Fool.

I grow bored … I grow bored …
I shall make a list of things we can’t afford.

Shall we tackle climate change? Do I dare to give a speech?
I shall spend my coffee fortune buying Arizona beach.
I have heard the voters talking, each to each.

I do not think that they will vote for me.

I have heard them singing to me from the cup
Combing their green hair as the waves blow back
When my breath cools the mocha white and black
I have lingered in this pleasant fantasy
Of sea-girls finally handing me a crown.
It’s just a coffee logo; I’m a clown.