Thursday, March 29, 2007


There is an art
that you practiced to perfection
in the 7th grade
to flicking your cigarette
just so

that when you do it
at 40, after trying (and
countless times to quit
you look
so cool it's juvenile

It's the fingers, performing
minor acrobatics
too fast for the amateur
eye to trace
and the butt (still lit at the end)
sailing softly 3 feet away (always
across the curb, and onto the road)
at some diagonal angle
its smoke curling quietly upwards.


sajda said...

Noha, Wow! Very perceptive with a standstill, slow-motion feel to it; A tiny however however (actually, maybe it's a big however), I'm left with the impression of a lack of judgment on the poet's part. "you look so cool it's juvenile" gives me a slight glimpse into the poet's view on it but the third stanza is so admiring that I'm wondering again.
Not that you NEED to take a stance just that I'm SUCH an anti-smoking crusader that I...I...ok, I WISH YOU'D take a stronger stance (boy, am I pushy!).
But again, you captured the allure of the lean-lazy "art" of smoking in a way that hits a chord. Please don't take my however to heart and add the lines:

at some diagonal angle
its smoke curling quietly upwards
to my eyebrows raised in dismay
that you're still puffin' away

(that would NOT be a cool poem).

noha said...

Heheh... Thanks Saj,
Yeah, the second stanza expresses my view (which is that I think it's NOT cool to smoke, and that the coolness that comes from it is a juvenile, 7th grade, "I wanna impress my friends" coolness) but the third stanza is the way it is because the flick does look "artistic" and "acrobatic".
The whole thing is supposed to reflect the irony of how he was able to practice and perfect the "flick" in 7th grade, but unable to quit throughout his next 30 years... and so now, even though he doesn't think smoking is "cool" anymore, the "cool flick" has become habit, and he still does it like a 7th grader would...

Wow, I just totally analyzed my poem more than I ever planned too, but I hope that explains what I was trying to capture... I wrote this after seeing two guys smoking (separately) at the bus station the other day, one a teenager and one a grown man... It's a bit of hybrid of how I think one will turn into the other.