smoke break (20160524)

across the street
two men share a habit
real paper-wrapped tobacco
in front of an aerospace building
where they probably work
skin rendered waxy by computer screens
and fluorescent lights

the tall lanky one wears a red shirt
the other, shorter and fatter than me
(finally, someone fatter than me)
in a blue polo
and it looks like they’re in the middle
of their smoke break

a third man emerges
from the intersection i’m walking toward
on my side of the road
he begins crossing the street
heavier than the guy in the polo
(and heavier than me by extension)
he wears a grubby green t-shirt
and jogs the way all men my age
and older jog when you don’t have
the will to run anymore
daring the cars

i wonder if he’s going to join the
the other smoking men
red, green, and blue together again
the three musketeers or stooges or whatever

he watches for traffic and i get distracted
by a pair of women on the other side of the road
walking through the parking lot
dressed like they’re going for drinks
at a friend’s house
work casual tight black pants
blouses with metallic prints
and from they way they almost fall with each step

i wonder if they smoke, too
or are they just getting to work
(kind of late for that)
or are they taking a break
and walking
like i am?
only they went out in pairs
and my god what kind of place
do they work where they have
to walk in pairs
and then i remember how i was
staring at their asses
and i know exactly what kind of place
the world is

i look back, but i’ve lost track of
the grubby green shirt guy
and the smokers are gone
much like their smoke
like their ashes

i wish i were smoke drifting away
smoke carries with it all memory
forgotten like the act of smoking
ash scattered, blown by the wind
particles of myself falling, separating
like dusty snowflakes
but not until after i’ve done
all the damage i can do

11 thoughts on “smoke break (20160524)”

  1. I really like this one. I can picture the scene–the narrator describing it, sort of chatty, and then “i wish i were smoke drifting away
    smoke carries with it all memory
    forgotten like the act of smoking
    ash scattered, blown by the wind. . .”

  2. Ok, this is surprisingly profound… Surprising because the title did not prepare me for the depth of insight within. I love the last stanza, especially… wow!

  3. I love the feel of driving by, of observing the nuances gave this piece a unique feel to it and the ending was nicely worked in with the ciggie aspect.

  4. I love this stream of consciousness poem… how your mind wanders…. making a mental checklist of your observations, and how you didn’t even notice right away how you were staring at the women’s behinds. Outstanding!

    1. Thank you. I’ve been reading a lot of Charles Bukowski, and I think he kind of lodged in my forebrain. It’s one of my current favorite pieces.

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