Cigarette #16
Crowded inside the ugliness of an ugly job —
like, for instance, the gutting
of a chapel’s pipe organ, your head
dandruffed with the dust old walls once hid,
your hands coarse and dry as the ropes; or

shoving crusted steel baskets
of bloody chicken wings
in and out of angry grease
while your shoes grab and slide
in ankle-deep sludge
that works its way inside your socks
and solidifies, intrusive as government,
under your toenails —

it’s understandable, this longing for fresh air.
But the ugliness stays in your mind
as you step outside and stare at this dumpster,
its recyclables lumped in with garbage
and carcasses, to be sent by workers
to landfills in truckloads.


What are tar and nicotine now?
Sometimes a cigarette tastes like kerosene.
I am putting a torch to a mansion.