Wisps of Smoke

“I think I smoke too much,” you say
as you light another cigarette
and he watches you behind half-closed eyelids.
Of course you do, of course you do, his silence says
like he used to say out loud.
You wish this town was as exciting as it was
when you were sixteen.

Your grandmother died last year and it’s a shame
because she used to make the best lemonade.
Before the ungodly hour of three am
became something sacred
you’d wake up early just to drink it
when she visited in the morning.

Alcohol doesn’t even taste good
now that you’re over twenty one and
your mom can’t stop you from doing anything.
Not that she tried very hard before, but you appreciated
the times that she did.

“You’re a man now. Act like one,” she would say,
and that was hard to request of someone who had
watched his mother paint lipstick on her mouth
every morning of his life.

You used to light fires just for kicks,
until you couldn’t stop and your friend’s dad
caught you, but he never told, and there
was nothing left to do.

“I’ll stop soon…” you murmur as the fumes
dissolve in the stale air and he sleeps
soundly beside you.


Once, at college, I heard someone walking by my window say the first line of this poem.

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