Nicotine

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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,
My god,
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,
and smiling.

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.

Twitter @bibek_writes