301-320

301. In the least visible crook of the bookstore, a number of cigarette devoid would-be poets sipped from water and sugar coffee, stammering a half thought between all of them.

302. This sofa was an island and he a civilization, fabled, on it, the cigarette smoke evidence of him, of fires with songs no outsider got near enough to catch a word of—his sickbelly frown and still the chalk of medicine tablets in his mouth, if these details got to the world outside his shores they’d be things enough to make myths out of and later novels referencing these myths.

303. Through her waif clothing, Merton thought it seemed his mother’s neck began just above her tailbone, giraffe long of her bumpy spine so thin and swingable, he imagined the cigarette smoke looping swirls around all the way down this length, her stomach, lungs maybe tucked cozy behind her bulbous knees.

304. On days his children weren’t there he would walk cigarettes through the house, windows all opened though freezing outside of them (more than enough air freshener to hide this tendency, nobody knew) and he’d look through their rooms, flip through children’s book pictures of cities in summer, in snow, on fire, beneath ground, with people, without, animals as people, animals as animals, moons as sinister eyes not to trust for a moment and moons as very best friends.

305. Probably, since the medicine would take six days to even show any effect, it would have been all the same to have never gone to the damned clinic and the worst of it was taking the medicine, knowing he was ill, put him right off smoking—if he just didn’t know, he could go enjoy a misery sodden smoke on the porch, immediately brush the slathered taste off his teeth, but now it was just appalling to even think about tobacco.

306. This plump old guy here, bookless while everyone else book-laden, smoked his cigarette like peek-a-boo, was whispering something, maybe whispering some song.

307. Mint green of her tongue from the long licked, bitten cracked, lollipop, this blowjob of hers was scented like bubblegum and all those bummed cigarettes all night, this mixed with my cinnamon sour perspiration soaking my shirt pits, arms laced up over my head, groaning it all in.

308. When sea journeys ran long, became death bobs, the waiting corpses would ration cigarettes—cigarettes which, when journeys went well, divided the days better than the rotation of stars, good navigators able to get globe-end to globe-end just by calculating the geography of breaths between drags.

309. It was like this, she told him one night, not even bothering to share the cigarette he didn’t bother to offer: she was always impressed with old books, but was never impressed by people who liked old books, especially not those who wouldn’t stop gushing, their exuberance the opposite of the magic the volumes should beget, and this was why his circle of friends was oppressive to her, their always thinking it some accomplishment to have paid two dollars for a book used and then loverboy sighing ‘This was written one hundred forty years ago—think about that, my God’ and all of it.

310. Teeth shivered rattlesnake to the hsssss in of his cigarettes, shoulders shivered turkey gobble as he bounced on fronts of feet with the outbreaths.

311. Something would have to be done about this—the suit he’d not worn to the funeral was laid out like a person on the bed, the suit he had worn being stripped off, floppy bored gesture of nudity, each piece discarded to the cigarette reek of the other laundry in room corners—did he move the pristine bastard back to the closet, sleep on it, what?

312. The cat was over there, gangster calm, purring pretend that its whiskers were a hung veil of cigarette smoke, forever unmoving.

313. Her son had smoked cigarettes, wasted evenings alone, left semen in women, ignored voices (even hers) over telephones, suddenly remembered things from times he couldn’t quite place—everyone’s sons do that, all of it, but now it was hers who had and she didn’t know how alone to feel, knowing most of the things she’d done, he her little baby, were those half remembered things, not sure if she wanted him to just enjoy the semi-sensations of remembrance or to not be satisfied until he could recall each detail, everything she’d loosely made up about why popsicles are cold, why grown up books don’t have pictures, who some dirt clumps to rocks and other dirt doesn’t.

314. Ten times, twenty times, thirty Daniel had answered ringing payphones in public (like this one he had glared at seething at his overdue bus with a cigarette) so much so he was convinced there was a specific tone in people’s voices, like they knew he always did it, found it creepy, knew they were the eleventh, the twenty-first, thirty-first stranger he’d so peculiarly decided to just say ‘Hello?’ to for nothing.

315. Some local film club was loitering through shared cigarettes, some bummed from him, in the last ten minutes before, according to the banner, the night’s feature would start—the girl had seen him look at her three times now, absolutely no way he could ask to be allowed inside, too.

316. Right beside, above a touch, a certain crucifix in the school Bernie and Hank had attended there was a speaker, bullhorn shaped, that school announcements were played on, the joke (told over and over and over during those school filled years) being that it was really there so some voice could blurt ‘Hey, quick slacking off Jesus, keep dying for our sins up there!’—a joke Bernie no longer found the laughter in, but could remember once choking hard on a cigarette at some retelling of, Hank remembering too, remembering mostly how Bernie had turned eggplant purple from the hacking and guffaws.

317. Large blank of the auditorium screen was taken up a few moments with sharp movements of projectionist shadow, the weight of the man obvious, the cigarette in his mouth, too.

318. He sobbed an aviary that night, kawed through cigarette after cigarette, blame after curse after supplication.

319. The wino thick of his mouth after two hours sleep—waking just to urinate—made it feel he was smoking his cigarette—just four drags, flushed dissatisfied with his coffee-tint piss—through spider webs tangled with sucked moths.

320. One day he’d no longer smell the cigarette odor of her broken sleep on the bed sheets, one day it’d strike him he no longer knew her sleep anymore, at all.

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