The Trouble With Cigarettes

This cigarette bites me every chance it gets. Bitter smoke in my eyes, a slick blade down my throat. It hurts.

 

It reminds me of us at the end, biting each other whenever one of us let our guard down. The sweet taste of rolled tobacco, that swirling reprieve of nicotine; it all stopped some time ago. But we kept on smoking, right down to the smouldering stub, taking long, desperate drags while it singed our fingertips, left yellow stains of our stubbornness. Eventually we had to set it aside, set us aside, but there was nothing left to burn out.

 

I understood you more than I wanted to. More than you wanted me to. Most days I feel in denial of how well I knew you, how well you knew me. Strangers making love. Or at least trying to. Harmless fucking in between the harmful drags of what doesn't kill you.

 

The truth of it is, I'm glad we kept on smoking. Some of those drags, a lot of them, felt pretty damn good. But in the end it was mostly bite. No one really likes the end of a cigarette, but they're not all this rough. And I'm always left wondering if that taste of ash and bile is what they're actually like. What happened to the sweetness? The floaty dose of the addict's crust? 

I guess that's why I'll roll another and smoke it for as long as it lasts. Right down to my burning fingertips. I'll roll it tight and skinny like you did and hope I've still got enough of whatever makes it burn. But that's the trouble with cigarettes: the second is never as good as the first. 

B.M. Stower