Em said that once you’ve smoked,
nicotine drills a hole in your psyche
that can never be filled.
She crept to school yellowed
by the stale fog
of her mother, a four-time
divorcée with a vodka thirst
and five packs a day.
We loathed smoke together.
Beware cancer! Nicotine jaundice!
Lung rot and acrid soot,
stains that never rinse,
reek steadfast as a bad reputation—
we would never hammer coffin nails
for ourselves, never and even after
she reneged, cut school in seniors’ cars
with her cigarette a magic wand
between her knuckles.
I kept our pact to spite her,
drifted away over good-girl years,
walked straight paths. She fumbled alone.
In sleep now I lean against graffiti,
a smoke Garbo-cool in hand
and sandpaper-hot in throat,
as natural as a sixth finger,
and I wake absently, reaching
for an imaginary pack,
chopstick fingers extended,
I'm Losing You
Connections: instant, but tentative, you and I
banding with ever-greater frequency,
developing tingling psychic
expectation of each other’s
incoming call, waiting
for the next
We began to linger for each other.
Long summer distances separated
Every night we
war-counciled for the coming day,
invested in each other
that fused us, inseparate
I charged you with roaming
from my side, equally accused of
in your “complicated” life—
I was never sure when
to let go, to hang up
the gloves, to see I couldn’t fight
your fights anymore…
somewhere I couldn’t see
Gathering groceries we met without expecting.
a glossy pre-fab soliloquy:
Everything’s Gonna Be Just Fine.
I lied the same,
until the signals came
softer… and less often
and in that prescient limbo
I could only say
I’m losing you,
as if straining to hear
you on a cellular,
separated from the day
by the darkness of a tunnel,
the static setting in,
and the voice I knew
ETA: Goddammit, you can't see the indentations, and on FP I can't get that one phrase to come up in italics. Also, the spacing on FP is fucked. I can't win. Go here for an approximation of what the indentations should look like. It's supposed to visually represent the "signals" breaking up.
Note: the "Em" in the first poem is not the Lovely Emily, who is lovely and does not smoke and I didn't even meet her until college.