Poem: It's the Cigarettes

The secret, common drug of the writing community.

It's the Cigarettes

The writers in Prague, our shabby bunch
    who’ve left others to wonder at the leaving
Where some profess to come for noiselessness,
    the contemplative silence of an unspoken language
Still others from failed loves or the pressures
    of that ever-upward mobility back there,
    the strangling, dangling, wrangling
    push of everything that’s home
But I’ll square with you and tell a truth
    that must be told, so listen up
The thing that binds us all, that holds us here

It’s the cigarettes

Language in its full, rich velvety lustiness,
    or thin, squeaky tremulous tone
    has always found its voice, however written
    in pubs and coffeehouses
Hung with smoke, yellowed, peeling, hazy, friendly places
    of conversation drawn out in drifted clouds
None left back home, all ferns, brass and smokeless,
    The thin veneer of words sealed and re-circulated
ionized, sanitized, rarified and clarified ‘till nothing’s left of sweat, nicotine belligerence and argument
Liquor doesn’t make writers and poverty’s overrated

It’s the cigarettes

To hell with being shoved outside in guilty congregation,
    bringing a whole new meaning to huddled masses
Down with the smoke-police and up with ashtrays,
    call the Liggets and the Meyerses to barricades
    and set a place for old Joe Camel’s field of fire
Prague settles back in smokiness, lights up, mellows out
    and welcomes us, passes its tribal pipe
If something good should come from that,
    don’t tell me Prague’s the Paris of the nineties
    or speak of Hemingway or F. Scott Fitz
There’s magic of a different kind that haunts this air

It’s the cigarettes
Poetry Collection: The Smell of Tweed and Tobacco
This poem is included in
Jim Freeman's
poetry collection


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