Tuesday, January 31, 2012


I used to watch my old man smoke
those Chesterfield shorts.
How he'd shake one
out of the pack,
flip it nimbly in his fingers,
and light it from a match
he cupped in his fist
whether he was against the wind
or not.
He'd hold the smoke deftly,
like a good pool shooter would hold his cue,
inhale deeply,
and while letting go
that first drag,
smoke coming out of his mouth and nose,
take another
down into his lungs
which seemed to satisfy him
for a few seconds.
Sometimes I'd be with him
and a few of his Mafia cronies
and they, too, would smoke unfiltered's:
Camels, Pall Malls, Chesterfields,
and Lucky's. I'd see them dry lip
the ends and then flick their tongues
to get at the specks of tobacco
that snuck aboard or sometimes
pinch their lips to remove them.
It was as cool and natural to them
as it was to Bogey
or Frank
who they idolized.
It went with the doing;
it went with the getting done.

I musta been eleven or twelve
when I stole a few Chesterfields
and a bottle of gin
from the liquor cabinet
and took them
and a pack of matches
to the beach.
Stealing was a delicious act,
but crossing into their world was tastier.
I got to the beach in Coney Island,
sat on the wet sand
my form lit from an old street lamp
forming a question mark
on the boardwalk.
I put the Chesterfield between my lips,
tasted a sweet bitterness that stung
the tip of my tongue
and tried to cup the match,
burned my fingers,
tried again,
and again,
and again,
finally lighting it from the side.
I took a drag
and coughed;
took a sip of warm gin
and gagged.
I smoked three cigarettes quick,
and sipped what tasted like hair tonic
just as quickly.
Light headed and a bit looped,
I made it home,
snuck around the back
eased the door open
and up to my room
and found my old man
sitting on my bed
waiting for me.
Come here you little bastard,
and close the door.

In a short amount of time,
Chesterfields tasted too stale,
Camels too thick,
Pall Malls were too long,
but Lucky's fit fine.
circumstance would dictate
what was smoked and what was drunk,
or ingested,
but who knew that

there is a filter
on my cigarette,
and coffee in my glass.
Sometimes that reality
gets me sick
if I think about it
too much.
I fear,
the cigarettes,
and my lungs,
will have to go,
"Love" does not now,
never did,
and never will,
conquer all.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2012

1 comment:

  1. gin and chesterfields? no wonder you wanted to puke. the sins of the father visited upon the sons. All the GI joes came home from the war and they all wanted and expected to get their due - and they did - by hook or by crook. And, yeah, we all wanted to be just like them.