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4 cigarettes

i have a cold

and there are 4 cigarettes

          in the house

               it’s the kind of cold

               that comes with a sunburnt throat

               and a mess of snot

                               in the morning

last night

          standing up & free

i’d felt the itch of it

and swore today i’d lay

                     off the cigarettes

                     give myself a chance

                                    to heal

i woke up

thinking i only had 4 cigarettes

slowly recalling my oath


the first temptation

took 49 minutes to catch me

     what was 1? a few puffs?

     and i thought back to the old days

                               the days of smoking sick

                               the colds that lasted weeks

                               the drips and slow agony

     but it would only be 1

                          for now

1 every four hours

                          that would be enough time

to really heal up


even now

my routine disrupted

i’m thinking of driving

               though the post-hurricane rains

               to the corner store

                     buying all the cigarettes i could afford

                     so i could sit outside

                               on its little picnic table patio

               and puff away until

                               i was a withered


                               ahumado y con feliz


this isn’t the first day

               of anything

and i’m thinking of those 4 cigarettes—

in the next room, on the table, beside the window,

the box, oh so light, nearly on the corner of

that table in the next room—

telling myself to resist

               to get better soon

               to wake up all right


the 4 cigarettes

will taste better then 

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