you’re home late one night
sitting on the couch
and you’ve had a stressful day
and you don’t have a plan for the evening
but you jump in the car
and you drive down the street
to your local seven eleven
where the nice man
behind the counter asks you
what he can get you
and you say
can i get a pack
and he reaches for the box
and he sets them on the counter
and maybe he asks to see your i.d.
and you grab a white lighter
and he rings you up
as across the register screen flashes
unless of course
you are a camel person
in which case you see
CAMEL 5.39
if you smoke turkish royales
because everyone knows
those are the best
and you sit in your car
and you roll down the window
and you smack that pack
of cigarettes against the dashboard
and you smack and you smack
packing those cigarettes
in ritual
beautiful american ritual
and you undo that gold string
like you are undressing
a beautiful hooker
and you open the lid
and you pull off the front wrapper
and you blow on the nicotine sawdust
and there before you
are twenty
white cigarettes
and you take one out
and you flip it over
and that’s your lucky cigarette
and you take that lighter
and you use your car key
and you rip off the safety
and you stick the cigarette
into your mouth
and you turn on your car
and you roll down the window
and you take in
the very first puff
of a pack
of twenty cigarettes
as the little bit of wrapper
with nothing in it burns
and there is fire
at your beg and call
at the end of
your cigarette
and you hold the smoke
in your lungs
and you let it out
and a cloud of white
sneaks past your lips
and out the window
into the night
that doesn’t feel so lonely now
and you put the car in reverse
and the window is down still
and the wind blows
and you put the car into drive
and you’re driving back home
and you’re taking another drag
and you let it out
and watch it roll out the window
behind you
out into the world around you
and at the stop light
you don’t look over
but the car beside you
has no choice
but to note
that you are smoking
and you turn your stereo up
just a little
and you feel like a bad ass
and the light turns green
and cigarette-in-mouth
you take off
a little faster
than the cars around you
and you get to your place
before you finish your cigarette
so you sit for a minute
you and the radio
and you watch
as the paper wanes
if there’s words on the side
as the words burn away
you make something disappear
and you feel the buzz
your headache is gone
you are lighter
a little bit dizzy
a little bit high
you care a little less
you eat your stress
and it burns a little more
and it burns a little more
until you’re left with
the butt of a cigarette
and you throw it on the ground
and you grind it with your foot
and you are a little taller
your pocket filled with a box
of nineteen more cigarettes
and you think to yourself
i’ll do this again sometime
and maybe you do
and either way
you’re right back on your couch
right where you were before



Author: brice maiurro

Denver poet. Author of Stupid Flowers, out now through Punch Drunk Press.

19 thoughts on “CIGARETTE”

  1. I used to smoke, so I can relate to this. Reminds me of a time when my husband was traveling by Greyhound somewhere in America and his mate rolled his own. A guy by them watched with big eyes and then said ‘Man, that’s sooo cool. It was late sixties, early seventies, and the guy obviously thought he was smoking weed

  2. If there is anything I could do again without concern for my health, it would be smoke, God I miss it, its been six years since my last one. There is absolutely nothing like the first intake of that heated heavy catch at the back of your throat upon inhale and the release of all your worries on exhale.
    A smoke and a cold beer.
    Now I want one. Dammit.

      1. I dont want to die, plain and simple. I have had acute asthma and was lucky to get through the 7 odd years I did smoke, I almost feel like a ticking time bomb, waiting to see if the damaged I caused is catching up with me.
        I smoke vicariously through my writing, always time for a good cigarette there in my short stories 🙂

      2. That’s a good way to look at it. I don’t really smoke, just a cigarette ever few months on a drunken night. Ill have to check out one of these short stories of yours. What do you recommend I read?

  3. REPLY
    I wanted to desperately capture my youth
    so i caught up on all those
    butts lying about
    stuffed into a diet coke can
    or just dropped by the side of the bed
    still lit
    that i use the mode of ‘cigarette’
    every time i write a poem
    for the fact that
    i have nothing else in my head
    ‘to be rather than to seem’
    i’ll be nothing
    “when my cigarette is finished”
    i was upset with my status
    i was pacing the tiny studio i resided in
    the pet hair and ash lined everything
    then i realized
    i’ve nothing other than the predictable
    and the two perfect lines
    faltering not
    ever unable to get that first cigarette out
    no fingernails to mention
    struggling, swearing at
    the tremor of a long-time-speed-habit
    i need this drug
    and it makes me unpleasant
    waiting in a group in said bar
    for the opportunity
    to step outside for the
    predictable sidewalk waltz
    pall mall reds
    and me
    and vonnegut
    writing that letter of satire
    america is shit
    we are all convinced
    that the next drag
    is not entirely my own
    i drive my truck like an old lady
    that forgot to be
    a young lady.

  4. I enjoyed the build-up of this piece. I was anticipating what was coming next with each line.

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