One More Cigarette

I stopped smoking cigarettes 4 years ago

because I became disgusted with myself

for supporting such awful corporations

by literally handing hours of my life over to them

in the form of dollars

and by literally handing over years of my life

in the form of damaged lungs.

I started smoking late in life,

late in terms of when people usually start

I was 23 years old

while I was in Iraq, after getting back to our base

one particularly shitty night

my gunner said that I looked like I needed a cigarette

and I said, ‘I guess I could use one’

though I had never even taken a drag

because I promised my mother I wouldn’t

when I was in 9th grade

and she found a bag of my weed

and we had a good talk,

and she confiscated the weed

and in hindsight, she certainly smoked it herself

but she said that if I was going to smoke anything

I had to promise her I wouldn’t smoke cigarettes

so I promised her that I wouldn’t

and I didn’t

and I never broke that promise

until I was 23

and then, because after the day we had

I really didn’t think it would be cigarettes

that would kill me

and I also didn’t think I would keep smoking

if I made it home

but I made it home

and I kept smoking

and I started college that fall

and this September will be 10 years

and back in 2008, you could still smoke cigarettes

on the UMASS Boston campus

though you can’t anymore

but you could then,

so I did

and it was October 7th 2008

smoking cigarette in the courtyard between classes

that I heard a passionate young man

wearing marine desert cammie pants

and a black Iraq Veterans Against the War t-shirt,

holding a megaphone

putting words to what I had started thinking

when I was still overseas

so I skipped my next class

and smoked a few more cigarettes

and listened to the next couple people speak

and that ex-marine named Mike

would become a brother to me

-and my own family still hasn’t visited the farm

and he’s been here twice already

and there’s not a lot of time to spare in medical school-

back then,

he never stop talking about how awful cigarettes are

and I learned from him what was happening to my lungs

and heart, and other damage being done

as I smoked my way through college

and cleansed my lungs with a lot of coffee

and I miss those days and nights

and talking about the state of the world with Rima

over cigarettes in the courtyard

or on the bench just outside the campus center

in between classes or powering through papers

or cramming for exams

and she became a sister to me

and we fought like siblings, sometimes

but I learned so much from her about humanity

and I got to see Palestine with her

when we all went in 2011

and on that trip,

and when she was with Mike visiting family in Ramallah

I smoked 2 packs one day

at a refugee camp in Bethlehem

and I had never smoked that much

in a single day before that

but I would smoke each time Nasim did

and he smoked two packs

so that’s how many packs I smoked

and one night,

we must have smoked at least 5 cigarettes

after brushing our teeth

and we went up to go to bed

on cushions on the roof

and smoked and talked until we fell asleep

and smoked and talked after we woke up

and that trip ended too soon

and it was back to school in September

and then came Occupy Boston

and after my first arrest for civil disobedience

Rima paid the fine as I was released the next day

and she handed me a cigarette

as we were walking down the steps of the courthouse

and we talked

and I think it was that fall

that I was crashing on their couch on Savin Hill

bumming a lot of cigarettes on the back porch

and slowly losing the last bit of respect

that I had for America

and I was barely going to class

in between protesting

and reading Howard Zinn

and getting arrested

and I was crashing on another couch

the following spring in Southie

and still hanging on to the idea of college

by a thread

but for the knowledge,

it was never about a degree

and I was still staying sane

with the help of those cigarettes

and those talks…

and time flies

and it’s been years since I left Boston

and it’s been over a year and a half

since Rima and I even spoke on the phone

but I miss my sister

and I miss those talks about the world

and I wish I go go back

to that bench outside the campus center

for one last cigarette

but I stopped smoking

and you can never go back

and life goes on

and I’m much happier here

than I was in Boston

and Rima and Mike broke up

and Mike is Juan now,

legally reclaiming his birth name

but he’s the same passionate kid

he was in 2008

only he’s traded the megaphone

for a stethoscope

and those friends all still give me hope

and I still love all of them

because that was the first time

I chose my friends

and wasn’t friends with someone

because I played football with them

or was in the military with them

or went to high school with them

but they are becoming lawyers now

and they are becoming doctors now

and they are saving the world now

and I’m struggling, still, to stay sane

struggling to live on what is still

technically American soil

and it’s a lot harder to do

without the cigarettes

and without the booze

but I wouldn’t choose to live

anywhere other than this island

on this farm

with my amazing wife

and all these dogs and cats

and sheep and goats

and chickens and ducks

and this horse Daisy

and her buddy Ram Chomsky

but sometimes I look up at the stars

and I remember

that dark-of-the-moon night

we spent in the desert

camping with Bedouins

and how amazing that tea was

and how we saw every star in the sky

and time sure does fly

but I remember those conversations

that helped me get by

and I remember those cigarettes

and the conversations about those cigarettes

and, as much as I grew to hate that dirty water of Boston

I love those people

and I miss them

and I wish them well

and I hope to hell they visit the farm one day

and if I could go back

to the night I started smoking in Iraq

I would do it all over again

because a lot of the best conversations I’ve ever had

have been words between drags of cigarettes

carried through the air with the smoke

but the smoke fades

and the words fade

and time has faded

and here I am in paradise, jaded

because of the plastic washing up on the beaches by the ton

and the acres of plastic still in the soil

30 years after the pineapple plantations left town

and because Uncle Sam wants to strip refugee status from Palestinians

and dismantle the UNRWA

and because no one gives a fuck

about civilians being slaughtered in Yemen

and because we’re still in Iraq

and because we’re still in Afghanistan

and because I can no longer keep track

of the countries we’re bombing

and because no one cares

that yesterday was the 73rd anniversary

of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima

and I sure could use one more cigarette

but buying pet food is more important to me now

and my lungs are more important to me now

because I need them for dog walks

so, I guess I don’t want a cigarette

I just just want to talk

and I want them all to know

that no matter where on earth they might go

they’ll remain in my heart

forever

 

 

About soitgoes1984

I was born and raised on land stolen from the Pocumtuc. I now live on a small island in the middle of the Pacific ocean, on land that was stolen more recently, from the Hawaiians. I am addict, struggling to kick the habit of fossil fuel. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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