The South Side coffee house The Beehive is closing after 28 years in business.

It was 1990 when The Beehive first opened, and Pittsburgh wasn’t yet a haven for independent coffeehouses or craft brewed beer. Starbucks was a rumor in Pittsburgh; craft beer was still called microbrews in 1990.

Very few people in Pittsburgh knew what a beehive was, or how it related to coffee. (If you know, let me know in the comments. I know NOW, of course, but I didn’t have an inkling in 1990.)

I wandered into The Beehive within its first week of opening. I was a Carson Street regular, along with many of my Duquesne classmates and Red Masquer co-conspirators. We became semi-regular customers, occasionally playing pinochle. The Beehive turned me onto good coffee, even better cheesecake, and the pleasure of aimless, late-night caffeine consumption.

The Beehive had manual typewriters. Not for sale, just there, just sitting on tables.

I don’t remember if they supplied paper (scrap paper that came from old handouts, old playbills) or if you had to dig up your own.

But one night, I ventured in and wrote this little gem. A freewrite, if you don’t know, is a writing technique where you just write whatever comes into your head. It’s a way to write just about anything, including poetry. That’s what I did: I stuck some paper in one of the typewriters, and just pounded some keys. It was published… somewhere, The Pittsburgh Quarterly, Yawp? I have to dig through my literary magazines to find out where.

Here it is, in its unpolished glory. All typos have been retained.


freewrite with a manual typewriter

ok, i should be alright now
keep it slow and steady, and double up
maybe i shoul write a poem,
but i am scared of my dreams right now
they threate n my and i have never had to be so intense
people are starting to stare
just remember this is how you learned
keep it slow and steady, and
remember to look down once in a while
beatiful people keep walking in
beautiful people i don’t have time for
and my pinky is not functional
he doesn’t mind as long as the rest of me works
my wrists were never so sore
the apostrophe is in the wrong place
(isn’t that always the case?(
and so is the back space key
(i would like to go back to where he was immune)
there is no enter key; i have to keep reaching up
now the fuking i key is sticking

what does immune mean?
how does it apply to people?
why does it #hurt to be a disease?
when immunity dies:
is it because they are stronger
or you are less potent?
is it not the same thing?
why am i writing in questions
why do i keep having to use the fucking i?
(i am going to loose my fingers in the spaces og
of this monster — my oh so delicate fingers)

to jimmy, my editor:
misspelling is half the funof using a fucking
manual typewriter. keep that in mind
and have patience with me. i’m donig
my best under the circumstances.

now the aceq i mean ache is creeping k
into i mean my arms and shoulders
when it gets to my thighs,
i quit …
considering the state of my thighs lately
it shouldn’t take long

he offers me another piece of people, paper i mean
(freudian slip)
i just need another cigarette
i have mved onto the hunt N peck method
minus the dashes
just the index finger thing
hope he doesn’t mind,. i mean.

maybe i’ll get a piece of cheese cake
i am certainly working of caleries on this thing
did you know, on a qwerty typewriter
which this is
you write the word typewriter using only the top line
top and wp
top, too
there is no 1 (you use the L, lower case)
and my ribbone is slipping
take that anyway you want…

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