Tag Archives: smoking

Up in Smoke

OK, so as of January 4, I’ve quit smoking. Roughly a 25-year, 2 pack a day habit and now it’s done. No patch. No gum. No Wellbutrin XL (which my better half who also quit needed to help her over the first week). I did have a doozy of a cold, though, which qualifies somewhat as cheating — since I tend to not smoke whenever I have a fever-cough-chest congestion condition and I get them for a week once or twice a year. This one happened to coincide with the smoking cessation date. So sue me.

I’m hoping that the non-smoking, in combination with voice strengthening exercises from Jaime Vendera, will help me recover what has for the last 8 or 9 years been a slowly increasing loss of range (about an octave and a half lost in that time).

I wonder, however, whether it in fact is the smoking that has been the primary factor, or the lack of use. I also wonder about polyps. My cousin had them and had to have them removed, and I’ve known several other singers who have suffered the same situation.

1 month 5 hours 32 minutes smoke-free
1,254 cigarettes not smoked
$238.26 saved
4 days 8 hours 30 minutes life saved

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New Orleans Spring

Once New Orleans weather starts to warm
it becomes quite bearable in shirt sleeves
to linger under the carport at night
enjoying a cigarette in the dark

while the light scent of jasmine fills the air
and the bustle on the main streets is slowed
(in those few short weeks before summer starts,
and the dense, wet weighted swelter bears down

to sap the strength from your pores, and slowly
suck the breath from your lungs – even the cloud
of smoke leaking from a cigarette sags
to the ground under that ponderous damp)

and in those too few evenings of short spring,
before the chorus of locusts comes back
from its winter hiatus to rehearse
and the palmetto bugs (or big roaches)

are still hidden, too busy with breeding
to venture out and scratch at the screen door
it is often very still and quiet –
and you can forget you are underneath

a carport (in a sometimes dangerous
city where tourists come to drink too much,
urinate on the streets, and leave their trash)
and see beauty in the sunset’s colors.

17 MAR 2004

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Suggestion for Philip Morris

I have been a smoker for a long time. You know, I’ve been watching these Philip Morris legislation required commercials advocating parental communication as the method for preventing children from smoking…and I’ve been thinking…while it is necessary for parents to communicate with their children, their words mean very little in comparison to their actions.

So here’s my idea for the new Philip Morris ad:

if you want your children to be non-smokers
don’t just talk about it.

Quit smoking.

As long as we’re in business
you’re wasting your breath.

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Carport Cacophony: a sestina

Under the carport, inhaling from my last cigarette another drag,
I listen to the voices rise and fall through the window,
their cadence and cascade a soft counterpoint of sound,
muffled through the closed glass;
here and there I catch a word, a phrase, a hint of mood –
then it slips away, like quick smoke, through the air.

There is a persistent chill present in the evening air,
that causes my blood to slow and my body to drag;
it brings a quiet, calm that soothes my work-weary mood,
and a slight hint of frost to the closed house windows.
The echo of the city slides by like marbles on a plate of glass,
leaving an empty hollow space without sound.

In this quiet place, small ideas seem so great and sound;
they shape themselves from the shadows and take in breaths of night air,
and build great reflections of themselves in the dark glass.
An hour passes quickly, as the sullen minutes drag
and flicker like flames against the frost-covered window,
and abandon all sense of order in response to this mood.

Then, suddenly, I am struck by a most melancholy mood –
I hear the futility of harmony in every passing sound,
and the anger in those voices on the other side of the window
seems to convulse and fold the now chilling air.
time has recovered its momentum, and the seconds cease to drag,
as a passing car stereo throbs by, rattling its cage of metal and glass.

The song of my heart is a symphony of broken glass,
and the chill of the night wind reflects this strange mood;
once the manic cycle ends, the valleys seem to ebb and drag,
and silence overtakes each song and swallows whole its sound.
Even my practiced lungs seem to have an aversion to their diet of air,
and there is a sad, lonely face peering from my window.

I listen again to the voices seeping through the closed window,
and wait patiently as they decrescendo against the cold glass;
I take in a deep breath of the cold, night air
and let the biting, bitter taste of it influence my ponderous mood,
let the chilled rasp of it linger, savoring the whispered sound;
then, from that cigarette, a last, longing drag.

Shivering slightly, I let my feet drag toward the door, put my hand against its glass,
watching my breath steam the screened window, letting it cast off this somber mood;
With a gentle sound, I release this poem into the air.

23 NOV 2002

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