Breaking the Habit
Under a marmalade sunset
you defy public decency
and a clumsy religious childhood
by lighting your first cigarette
in a non-smoking outdoor café.
I lean so far backwards the sky
plasters my face with a glare
that politely conceals a snarl.
The young waitress weeps aloud
and drops a mocha latte
in a burst of chocolate shards.
The Prudential Tower leans
as far back as I do, avoiding
the act of bearing witness
that could doom a civilization.
You puff so mightily your lungs
balloon like two dirigibles.
The raw taste apparently pleases.
You smile in various flavors,
all tinted pink. Cinematic,
you snuff the butt in your coffee
and lavish a large tip to assuage
the tears of the fuddled waitress,
who is busy wielding a dustpan.
Why take up smoking in old age?
You want to suffer everything,
you claim, even the ill health
that plagues the self-abusers
you in your innocence ignored.
The slab of skyscraper has settled,
and I lean forward again to catch
your Lauren Bacall impression
rasping like files on prison bars,
a hopeless but organic sound
I often mistake for music.