Nicotine Habit


Like the wisps of smoke escaping their lips,

the smokers drift to the edge of the party.


Along with the dust motes and lost change,

they slip into corners,

cluster in groups tightened by need.

Cast out to the deck or the porch,

under cold skies, the nicotine hungry cling

to each other,

the coppery ash of their

glowing cigarettes, a dying symbol.


Unregenerate in a world obsessed with health,

the smoker inhales all that is recherche, noir.

Decadent ideas waft and curl like French enigmas

@with each exhalation.

At the hub of the party, the rest of us relax in white light, hospital happy as if beyond the smoker

and the smoke free what

waited was more than the end --

life stubbed out.

Barbara M. Simon, who writes from Baltimore, is a "reformed smoker" who is "beginning to believe that our society was a kinder place when people smoked, drank and ate red meat -- and left other people do what they wanted to do.

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