SIPA Poetry Contest Entry

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How To Hold a Cigarette

Position your cigarette between
your index and middle finger.
Acknowledge that you’re holding a stick
of long drawn out suicide.
Let your friend light it for you.
Watch the fire in awe as it sparks.
Breathe it in, all of it,
feel the artificial warmth
in your throat and in your heart.
Now cough out your lungs.
Ask your friend for another,
because yes, it might’ve killed your father

and your best friend’s grandfather,

and the stench of his state cigars
may still cling to the paint in your living room and kitchen,
but you know this is only a one time thing.
You have complete control of your body after all.

Don’t you?

Two months later,
now you’re up to 10 Marlboro Lights a day,
but don’t forget to remind yourself
you are in control.
You really hate the way it tastes but
My god does the smoke mesmerize you.

Bring your lighter with you everywhere.
Notice that you truly have been
locked in this dark tiny room of dependence.

Don’t bite the hand that feeds your addiction.


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