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Poem Number 71

Notice how the ending of this poem is an implied warning against smoking.

Smoking

Elton Glaser

I like the cool and heft of it, dull metal on the palm,
And the click, the hiss, the spark fuming into flame,
Boldface of fire, the rage and sway of it, raw blue at the base
And a slope of gold, a touch to the packed tobacco, the tip
Turned red as a warning light, blown brighter by the breath,
The pull and the pump of it, and the paper's white
Smoothed now to ash as the smoke draws back, drawn down
To the black crust of lungs, tar and poisons in the pink,
And the blood sorting it out, veins tight and the heart slow,
The push and wheeze of it, a sweep of plumes in the air
Like a shako of horses dragging a hearse through the late centennium,
London, at the end of December, in the dark and fog.

 

from Winter Amnesties
Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale, IL

Copyright 2000 by Elton Glaser.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced with permission (click for permissions information).