I started smoking at four,
At thirty-two I had lung cancer.
The same year
Mama had died of alcoholism.
Now and then, I coughed
Blobs of yellow phlegm
Sometimes, even blood.
The doctor said
I only had a few months more,
Told me to put things in order.
I came home,
Took off my jeans,
Unbuttoned the peacock blue shirt,
Sat on the edge of my bed
In my underwear, and lit a cig.
With sweet smell of
Nicotine covering my face,
I thought about my will.
Children I had none,
I never saw my father,
I doubt if I even had one.
But I had a wife, I think I had one,
Who left me a year after our marriage,
And ran away with a taxi driver.
I don’t know where she is,
Or what she does.
I wonder if she found
The man of her dreams,
I heard she ran away twice,
She must be an awfully good runner.
I pulled out a briefcase
From under the table,
Opened it, took out an old photograph,
Taken by a film camera, probably a Yasuda.
A portly kid in khaki shorts
and bare chest stared back at me,
squatting, the underpants visible,
Caressing the blunt edges of it,
I felt, I, too, had a childhood,
Or at least a sense of it.
But now, I was going to die—
I’ve got to be prepared.
So, I lit another cig and took a deep drag.
Then and there I knew what I was going to do—
Sixty cigs a day—that’s my will,
And a ticket to heaven
By the end of this month.