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.
(First appeared in Republicá.)
She often goes to this little coffeehouse
to sit around
drinking cups after cups of espresso
smoking cigarettes after cigarettes
near a glass window,
which welcomes the afternoon sun,
flickering through the half drawn curtains.
This is her best place to drink and smoke
because all the people
who come here
seem perfectly normal, or sane
and they all sit quietly
as if afraid of making any noise.
Across the street is a book shop
wherein a man sits all day long
taking drags on his cheap cigarettes
and expelling the smoke slowly
his face is helpless blue and vacuous
as if painted in copper sulfate
and he doesn’t like the eerie silence
of the coffeehouse.
she sits quietly and drinks
the strong black coffee
nobody bothers her
she bothers nobody
as the sun outside
does a mad dance like Shiva
she flips through an old copy of The Bell Jar,
the contours of her face fluctuating
like a jellyfish
under the halo of serpentine smokes.
All day long
she reads and smokes and drinks.
and I love the smell of tobacco
on her lips.