I am a coffee drinker and I became one early in life. I prefer to take my coffee black and sweet. My Granny brewed her coffee strong and since her dad, brothers, and nephews all worked for the Burlington Northern Railroad, we called it railroad coffee.

I am a coffee drinker and I became one early in life.  I prefer to take my coffee black and sweet. My Granny brewed her coffee strong and since her dad, brothers, and nephews all worked for the Burlington Northern Railroad, we called it railroad coffee.
T.S. Eliot is one of my favorite poets, a Missourian like me. I don't write much poetry these day but I did at one time.
Eliot is a favorite not just because we're both from Missouri but because his poetry has always resonated with me, especially 'The Love-Song of J. Alfred Prufrock'.
Although the entire poem sings for me, one line stands out - "I have measured out my life with coffee spoons."
The poem was written when Eliot was in his twenties, in a era of  transition between the Victorian Age and the Edwardian Age and as the events leading to World War I were happening. It first was published in 1917 as 'Prufrock And Other Observations".
 Eliot saw a damaged society, a world changing irrevocably. He saw chaos and confusion.  It's a poem about change, a poem that questions whether or not we, as humans, should move forward or remain as we are, wounded or not.  Literature teachers and literary pundits have dissected the poem many times and some may disagree with that interpretation.
As for me, I believe the poem is just as relevant now as it was when Eliot first wrote it.
Our world today is one with its share of confusion and chaos.  Although I long ago passed out of my twenties, I can relate.  I first discovered the poem in college and it sang to me then, as now.
There are many lines that resonate and relate to things happening now, in my world.  They may be different than those Eliot experienced and yet due to the seemingly unchanging nature of human beings, they are the similar, if not the same.
Eliot was born in St. Louis on September 26, 1888. Despite our vast age differences,we did share space on the planet for a few short years, from my birth in 1961 until Eliot's death on January 4, 1965 in London.  Eliot moved abroad at an early age and remained in England for most of the remainder of his life.
After his death, his reputation faded from the heights his career once attained and although many still consider Eliot's work difficult, he is still read today.  Lines from some of his other poetry are well known in our culture. "This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper," are the last lines in his poem, 'The Hollow Men' and the often quoted line, "April is the cruelest month" is from Eliot's first line of another poem, 'The Waste Land'.
Eliot's work is far from forgotten and should never be.  
Back to the coffee spoons - I've drunk a lot of coffee in my life and plan to drink  yet more.  I flirted with coffee at an early age and chose it as my primary morning drink. I sometimes drink tea, occasionally at breakfast but more often in the afternoon or evening when I can savor it.
If I think about the sheer number of coffee cups I've emptied, over a span of more years than I want to count, in many diverse places from Granny's kitchen to my own, from California to New York and through most of the South, I realize I'm measuring out my life in coffee spoons too.
Whether that's good or bad, I've yet to decide but I like to believe Thomas Stearns Eliot might well understand. After all, he wrote the line.

Lee Ann Murphy is a staff writer for the Neosho Daily News and writes a column for the newspaper.