401-420

401. From Dover Street down until Pail Avenue the wind was thin, vainglorious, made the trails from every cigarette thin, vainglorious the same as it.

402. A cadaverous ache over the entire night, city streets to the houses in their stuck clumps at the city outskirts pulsed raw to any touch, raw waiting sore even untouched, the children all had old man bones, the old men all had skin translucent, ghost, and where Timothy went walking the cigarettes stuck from his and every other loitering mouth like fangs, snaggleteeth outstruck, deformations, the mottled smoke not blown, slurped out over faces, lizard tongue over lizard eye.

403. Knelt by the pile of laundry, holding two pair of the various panties in his hands, he was just beginning to open his mouth to ask another question when Anya said, ‘Not those ones, the primrose pair,’ a sound then like she was entertaining herself blowing the cigarette she was smoking in several directions through a grin.

404. It was two days now, but due to the dry or something, dry outside and the motel dry of the heater, cigarettes still tasted like the nosebleed he’d had, the smoke seemed to go down in soup swallows rather than sighs.

405. In how she held her cigarette, not to mention how she lipped it (hardly, yet got long more-than-mouthfuls of greyblue to slip from it, a snakecharm) it was clear this was a woman of spoil, the sort who knew where a poem was heading before it got there (however referencelessly obscure it might posture) who felt the strangle of orgasm down to her marrow, could go from sleep to wake (or the reverse) as simply as deciding to ignore the one to give the other halfhearted eyes.

406. Christ in Hell—jackhammer heat, no cigarettes for sale, water drunk from shared spoons in a trough three paces from an outhouse—there weren’t nightmares as wretched as this, but still a line of lingering jobless outside of that whorehouse, some of them even holding wrapped gifts.

407. Raphael feared it was too loud a hunger, his eyes in such a permanent seize around the throat of her figure, her moving mouth, feared he must be clanging obscenely, his heart known to any random flit of any stranger’s eye—yet still he did not look away, paced to avoid even the obfuscation from the slow dribbles of his own cigarette, if he blinked he lashed his open in fury for the morsel of look he had lost.

408. Oh, the poor thing, she’d been lit then left forgotten, got barren, heat gone cold, untended cigarette.

409. In a limp attempt at pretending some levity with his friends during his rumpled, heartbroke destituteness, Fred joked he’d like to make a modern opera out of Finnegans Wake, just needed to round up enough pots and pans, kazoos, penny whistles, and tape-loops of diuretic addict’s toilet-tunes and cigarette-hocks leading to projectile—once he had those, he could get to the actual composing, didn’t want to waste his time until he had the proper orchestra assembled.

410. Pillar of salt, she smoked her cigarette the way one dances with a lover who they’d rather they weren’t.

411. Lungless twerp, waste of cigarette and not enough breath in him to sing the beer damp refrains with the others—someone doesn’t take that one underwing, birds’ll pick his bones alive while he walks, leave only rags to stick under the soil and mourn over.

412. For all of his meanders, he’d come no farther than the end of same block he’d started on, pockets now as cigarettless as they were tissue stuffed.

413. Not sure what to make of the report that scientists had come up with a machine that could smoke cigarettes more suavely and with a graver set to its mechanical brow than even the most writer-blocked, lovelorn (requited or un) or ennui-laden person ever could, Jean Pierre stared at his coffee cup and at his own waiting smoke, puppywag of the tip smolder making him smile.

414. The noise got more percussive, oddly more waterlogged sounding, he sitting, staring up at the bottom of the floor of the apartment above him (that the phrase he happened to use in his thoughts at that moment) waiting for some shadow of soon-to-drip water to form, the smoke of his cigarette drifting up all in one unit then breaking against the ceiling flat in a series of bouncing waves.

415. The night was a splayed universe of innumerable things that would never happen to him, the only certainty in it that he’d run out of cigarettes well before dawn.

416. Mountains jagged a monotonous series of chapped-lip humps out in the distance, the rooms of the cabin growing warmer, less oppressive, the sky going through some contortions of color, drip of this paint into a glass of water drip of that paint, the air inside an inch thicker with cigarette than the air on the porch, moving in to out like moving under and out from water.

417. Three weeks home, finally Garrett unpacked the small suitcase, overjoyed to find a half pack of cigarettes, which meant he could put off leaving his apartment at least until the next morning.

418. In conversation Gwen had learned to be more chilly, generally, and overall to execute changes in temperature using no more than just one side of her mouth—a good change, everyone agreed, so much more suited to her demeanor with cigarette, her old habit of getting flustered and looking for phrases or facial expressions to placate all comer something nobody would miss.

419. All morning his time was tangled in knots, the sudden freedom of the evening coming as the burst of a cigarette cough.

420. ‘Watch out for Ela,’ was what Quincy had by way of advice, giving it across at the same time as a cigarette and a struck match, ‘she’s electric, but mostly when she’s lying—just know that the best times with her are always you being deceived.’

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