No More Hints

Strong evidence
of tobacco use on the corner
outside the library. I should

know. Have checked out
for five all but one
year of my life

in this town. A red
Q on this book
cover is no longer

a question. Quality days
begin to stack up
against an invisible wall. Collections

have their place. I don’t
miss the smoke.

I Am Chronic

Each poem, drunk, diary
entry. Each smoke, vitamin,
obsession. Each song
lyric, verbal tick, chapter
read. Each piece
of chocolate, mile
walked, resentment nursed.
I am each reprieve.

Absent of Choking

You once said if I didn’t smell
like smoke I would smell
like sex. Now that the air has cleared,
I just want to smell

fresh coffee brewing
come morning, an old book fanning
open in the afternoon, traditional Tibetan
incense burning come evening,

rosewater splashed on my face
before I sleep.

The Smooth Mellow Pack

The color orange engulfs her
in hazy dreams—appears as a sheer
shawl to web her shoulders,

a pair of lace-up long boots
to hug her calves. It’s not the color
she has to relinquish

upon waking. Just the fog
that presses it down, packs it tight
against her chest.

Bourgeois Fiction (Day 2,993)

What she uses to wedge
beneath one leg to level
the table could be a match
book she no longer needs. Could be

a roll of used clichés she’s been saving
to stuff in his pipe. But it’s gone—ashes
have settled to the bottom
halfway across the country. The bowl

never held much to make it worth wasting
a light on. As for the rest, she’s busy
writing it down.

Hmm (Day 2,987)

Music sounds better without
the smoke. I’m the listener,
not the singer. But forgive me
if I mouth his words, even sing along,

as I walk across another skyway bridge
on my way to heightened
exhales. Hums crossing dangerously close
to humiliation—still better than

arrogantly setting
tobacco on fire again.

Skyway Anonymous

You were not allowed
up here—that hole
in the carpet couldn’t be
a careless discard

of one of you. A pizza
delivery man exits an elevator
to one of those office towers—can I

smell it? Oregano,
tobacco, the cigarette
that man outside on the corner
was smoking was too sweet

smelling to be
one of you. Old lovers
who were never really friends. A convenience

store becomes like a liquor
depot—no further purpose.
And I can go anywhere now.