By W. S. Di Piero
We loiter in the cobblestone alley,
Beans, Clams, Yom-Yom and me,
smoking punk. Snip the wiry stem,
trim the nubby end, scratch fire
from a zipper then pass the stink around.
William Penn designed these blocks
squared off, brick, crosshatched by alleys
to prevent the spread of fire. So fire
runs down my throat, reed
turning to iron inside my lungs.
Yom-Yom has an uncle in Bucks County.
Country boys sneak behind barns and puff
on cedar bark. Smoke’s the only thing
we have in common. Smoke when our breath
meets cold moist air, though no smoke rings
in winter, while sullen cars drag gray on gray
down city streets or country roads.
Someday I’ll smoke Camels, my father’s brand,
then Gauloises to prove I’m stronger than him
in burning whatever’s inside that won’t sleep.