I have never smoked a cigarette—
not even a puff—
which surprises people.
I promised my mother I would not
when I was younger,
and I never break my promises to my mother.
except when I do.
So it surprised me when I began to cough black smoke
which issued forth in my mouth
which hung low and wide and open like an O
in the depths of my surprise.
And blew forth in rings, slow and steady and constant
I think it comes from the tar
Which I can feel burning in my lungs
Which comes creeping back and coats my tongue with bile
I will find it one day
It will pour forth from me like so much black smoke
but until then I will swallow my bile
and breathe in my smoke
and hug and kiss my mother
and I will wait