penultimate poem

Back in the day (what a funny expression), this poem was my ‘signature piece.’ I don’t know, maybe it still is in some circles. Since it was written in April some years ago, I thought it would be a good one to add in this month of poems.

The Kind of Smoker I Would Be
by Lizzie Wann

Sometimes I wish that I smoked
because it would give me something to do
during those times when I find myself waiting
or those times when I want to run away from people
their conversations or their arguments
I would at least have something to occupy my mouth during its silences
when it only wants to feel some pressure against it
without effort, without asking

Because that’s the kind of smoker I would be
silent, alone, taking it in and letting it go for myself
the way I would kneel and clutch my rosary
with sunlight shaken down from heaven

But I am not religious
I believe in something that I don’t know if it could be called
God or Self or Sun & Moon
only that there it all is and here I am in it
and I am satisfied with that knowledge
don’t want to investigate mysteries
like what lies beyond darkness of an April sky
or if something will be affected
if my body is returned to the earth with its skin and some clothes
or if it is scattered as ashes
my bones baptized by fire in death
far from the holy waters of birth

Ashes of the cigarette I would smoke
would be mingled in a bowl or a pot with the others
that I would then mix with water and
try to throw on the potter’s wheel
but I am not a sculptor either

I fall in love nightly
with the bare forearms of musicians
and secretly thrill myself
with the wonders of their mouths
that might press against mine
without effort, without asking

Like the way my cigarettes would
burn and live and die
by my mouth
these kisses exist quick and sweet between us
without regret
with love and not sorrow
because it has been so nice
to not be sad about love
for so long

I would snub out the cigarette with ritual
to end its burning and satisfaction
Celebrate it with hymns for its graces
and for all those that will come after
to also
burn and live and die
and to know my mouth
in its silences

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