New Year’s eve storm

let me wait out the storm right here

let me smoke cigarettes in the truck stop

let me order a plate of ham and scrambled eggs

let me pour on the tabasco sauce, let me

pay 85 dollars for someone to wash down

the Peterbilt before the five hundred mile

run to Spokane

don’t let anyone tell you that the

New Life Church of Christian Brotherhood

has all of the answers

or the Pope or the Dali lama

don’t let anyone get in the way of Progress

don’t flag down the latest politician

looking for a free bus ride

call a cab if you need one but

don’t expect to get off without paying a dime

it may be New Year’s Eve in Times Square, but

it’s still just another day in Kansas City

Philly and Evanston, Illinois.

and in Paducah.

expect little – pay a lot more

that’s the best way out, take the express lanes

if they are open

push it to the floor if you must but

watch out for oncoming traffic

smoking a cigarette on Exchange Pl., 1993

you remember
last times
more than
you remember first

you remember the last
Cigarette that
you smoked…ever
it was 1993
in July…
the day after
the loneliest poet in the world
you read about it in the Post
but you
put it out of your head
for a couple of hours
you went outside
on 10:30 break
and you walked down Exchange
without any remorse
at all, you walked up to
the first guy you saw
lighting up
and asked him
“hey pal, could you spare a smoke?”

he was a big guy,
he had on a paisley tie
choked up
tight against his neck
hypertension written
in stalactites across
his red cheeks

“what’s it worth to ya”
he says
Bellowing it out like a
gasbag Texas oil guy
in a Vegas whorehouse

he shakes a pack at you

…Chesterfield Kings

…you hesitate…

“Are these cancer sticks
too much for you son?”
he raises an eyebrow
his face
looks a little more red
than before…

and you tell him

“not at all”
and you say that
you are
well acquainted
with the risks