By Carmina Gitana

He says,
"We've got to have a talk."

So I light a cigarette -
a dirty little
nervous habit.

He says
it has been beautiful,

and I smile
because I am an idiot,
and run my tongue across
the menthol tip
of my cigarette.

He says
something about life's paths,
something philosophical,
something that reeks of such bullshit,

I cannot look him in the eye,

so I look instead
at the glowing red tip
of my cigarette,

the tiny red tongue
that licks circles around
the fragile, skin-like paper,
leaving soft gray ash
in its scorched wake.

The ash is like old lace;
it's pretty,
I think irrelevantly,

and he is still talking,
and my cigarette
is still burning down.

He says,
"Things change,
you've changed,
I've changed,"

and I take a gulping drag,
and choke
on the bitter, acrid smoke,

as though it were my first time.

He is talking
about her perfect ass
and perky tits.

he is still talking
about life's paths
(at least, he thinks
I think
he is)

while I contemplate
my cigarette's
scorching red tip
and violence,
which is never the answer.

(What was the question again?)

He says,
"Do you know what I mean?"

Does he know what he means?
Because I sure as hell do,

so I nod,
and he looks so relieved,
so relieved.

My hand moves then, and
the pretty, pretty soft gray ash
lands on the floor.
My cigarette's

tiny red swirling tongue
looks vicious now,
and keeps moving downward.

He says,
"It has been beautiful,
and I will always - "

but my cigarette
has reached
the end of its patience

and its tiny red tongue
has come down to my fingers
and even though I had seen it coming
it hurts.

I let it go
with a little cry.

Unauthorized Copying Is Prohibited. Ask the author first.
Copyright 2005 Carmina Gitana
Published on Saturday, February 19, 2005.     Filed under: "Poetry"
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Comments on "Cigarette"

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  • carlosjackal On Sunday, February 16, 2020, carlosjackal (2720)By person wrote:

    This is simply stone cold perfection.

  • Sin On Friday, October 13, 2017, Sin (1168)By person wrote:

    I still love everything about this ~k

  • A former member wrote: I love this. very real emotions....makes me want a cigarette too haha

  • A former member wrote: Paints a picture in my head. Amazing.

  • Melancholic VIncent On Saturday, June 9, 2012, Melancholic VIncent (431)By person wrote:

    I really like this piece, feels like a story, you can see the conversation and the reaction of both characters to it, we clearly see the progress as the poem goes forward.

  • Railway_Butterfly On Saturday, May 12, 2012, Railway_Butterfly (354)By person wrote:

    ah, this is excellent.. read like a dream, I could feel the bitter curve of my lips deepening with every line. You may not understand why people like this so much, but I feel that I do.. it's just so relatable. How many of us have been there, having this conversation and feel that angry burn on our fingers ? There was a line in this.. 'my hands moves then..' and I thought, I *hoped* for a second, that it was moving to punch him in the face. Perhaps this piece did that enough without you needing to..

  • veingo On Sunday, May 6, 2012, veingo (533)By person wrote:

    I remember reading this one a long while back. I like it then, but I feel more connected to it today. I think I have grown a bit since then; in my understanding of a lot of things. Thanks... ^V^

  • FadedBlues On Wednesday, May 2, 2012, FadedBlues (2177)By person wrote:

    ...perfectly crafted, & maybe I'm just adding to this mountain of praise so that you'll never reach the bottom of the page...

  • Carmina Gitana On Wednesday, May 2, 2012, Carmina Gitana (152)By person wrote:

    . . . maybe I am not supposed to say this, but I've never understood why people like this particular piece so much. But thank you for this, and your other kind comments :)

  • The Black Lark On Wednesday, March 28, 2012, The Black Lark (9)By person wrote:

    I can see the message and what you're trying to say with this, but I don't like the poem in itself at all. It's hard to find it compelling and attractive to read; but that's just me of course.

  • A former member wrote: The description of the cigarette is simply... magical

  • Carmina Gitana On Tuesday, August 25, 2009, Carmina Gitana (152)By person wrote:

    Just wanted to say, thanks a lot, guys :) Y'all made me feel all warm and fuzzy :)

  • A former member wrote: but really.... who got burned?

  • A former member wrote: funny thing about poetry... about any art harnessing the power of symbolism... it actually requires that the consumer (reader) have at least a modicum of refinement, at least the capability of recognizing what is art and some small semblance of intelligence to interpret the metaphorical meanings. I like the way the question/answer are juxtaposed in the middle... the allegory of the cigarette is divinely developed... and the descriptive insight that makes the mundane novel is textbook. Excellent... ashes to ashes, huh?

  • Prophint On Wednesday, August 19, 2009, Prophint (17)By person wrote:

    that sucked! It takes absolutely no talent to write a piece of shit like that! Anyone who says this is beautiful or earth shaking, i just watched my dog take a crap, and by your standards that would be fuking incredible! Fuck all of you!

  • SilentStalker On Thursday, August 20, 2009, SilentStalker (1070)By person wrote:

    ...I see some pent up anger here...someone got walked in on during their 'me' time, perhaps...? adolescence will do that to ya... Scholar

  • Prophint On Thursday, August 20, 2009, Prophint (17)By person wrote:

    Oh, thats funny, you must have heard that on your mothers Tv while she was getting her fat trailerpark ass stuffed by someone who ISNT your daddy, tell me, what part of this poem is AT ALL good?

  • A former member wrote: Lessee, what's good? The use of a controlling metaphor that is neither trite nor over-reaching, the reflexive symbolic language that plays into that metaphor, the use of repeated words with different connotative meanings to express the full content of the thought being related, not to mention a good deal of natural speaking/chanting rhythm with added consonance and alliteration to tie it all together. In short; it's a snapshot of a moment of someone's life used to tell a deeper and more useful story, one that relates to human interactions of all kinds, rendered poetically, rather than as a forced rhyme and meter prose cliche.

  • Adam On Friday, August 21, 2009, Adam (245)By person wrote:

    Too bad he did not see this comment before he "left", he may have learned something. Scholar

  • SilentStalker On Thursday, August 20, 2009, SilentStalker (1070)By person wrote:

    ...constructive criticism consists of letting the author know not only why you didn't care for the write, but what you think could be done to better, my socially impaired friend, sounded more like a three year old throwing a tantrum because someone stole your turn on the playground slide...when your commenting grows up, maybe people will begin to actually respect your feedback...until then, don't expect us to think you're anything but a whiner... Scholar

  • A former member wrote: And it takes even less talent to leave an insulting comment without any actual reasons for the insults other than "that sucked". As to everyone else commenting, I happen to know a few of them are "paper-published" poets, one of them has interned for a publisher and another is an associate editor, so their judgments are a little more valid than yours. Nice try, though. Maybe next time you can give an actual reason you dislike something, rather than act like a two year old throwing a tantrum. Scholar

  • A former member wrote: ah, look! Societal Droppings... spewing shit-for-brains all over my screen. Sounds like this brainiac is still in the 5th grade. I'll take the comment as indicative of his ability per se and avoid shit-for-brains altogether. Sharon... are you sure the commentator's occupation has some bearing on the validity of the judgment rendered? Scholar

  • Liz On Wednesday, August 19, 2009, Liz (267)By person wrote:

    Just got this in my email as the "poem-a-day." It's been awhile since a poem made me log in to comment on it. Excellent work.

  • estherbell On Wednesday, November 19, 2008, estherbell (53)By person wrote:

    shiiite..when i started to read it i saw it coming but it still hurts...i need a cigi:)

  • CharlottesWeb On Thursday, November 13, 2008, CharlottesWeb (511)By person wrote:

    Incredible. I won't even touch a pack of cigarettes, can't stand looking at a used one (some weird psychological thing), but this is beautiful. I'm mystified. Wow.

  • A former member wrote: So sad.... been there before )=

  • Lethie On Friday, August 29, 2008, Lethie (13)By person wrote:

    I love this it seems slightly amusing to

  • nuclearentrails On Monday, August 11, 2008, nuclearentrails (9)By person wrote:

    "but my cigarette has reached the end of its patience" we're like our menthols, our unfiltered's, the packs of rolling tobacco. sometimes we have a filter that we're right at the end at or we don't have one at all. beautiful poem.

  • TropicalSnowstorm On Sunday, August 10, 2008, TropicalSnowstorm (1702)By person wrote:

    This is a brilliant piece - can't believe I never saw it before. "even though I had seen it coming it hurts" - fantastic! Ciao, T/S Scholar

  • Bluegirl On Friday, April 18, 2008, Bluegirl (177)By person wrote:

    Brilliantly done.

  • Nixx On Tuesday, October 16, 2007, Nixx (241)By person wrote:

    fantastic write, love it.

  • serotonin lost On Sunday, August 5, 2007, serotonin lost (144)By person wrote:

    i still come back and read this, it has made an impression i can't rid myself of....

  • Reefer_rave On Monday, March 31, 2008, Reefer_rave (146)By person wrote:

    me too

  • Tania On Saturday, July 28, 2007, Tania (197)By person wrote:

    i have had this faved now for what seems like forever ...and i have read it so, so many times. this is just brilliance..i love this piece so much.

  • A former member wrote: this must have been hiding from me; its a testament to strength and grace; to know this inevitable end and the humanity behind trying to avoid it, subconsciously, emotionally, physically blocking it out any way feasable. . .indeed well versed..nessa

  • Gideon Lost On Friday, May 18, 2007, Gideon Lost (138)By person wrote:

    I have always loved this piece. -Gideon

  • stormtalk On Saturday, April 14, 2007, stormtalk (729)By person wrote:

    just plain excellent

  • Enigma On Tuesday, April 10, 2007, Enigma (91)By person wrote:

    Great poem, I really liked it.

  • A former member wrote: :] eww favorite poem

  • A former member wrote: loved the witty, sardonic tone of this and how you describe 'the tiny red tongue...' of your cigarette. - intrigued me from the first word to the last -So glad I stumbled upon this one...

  • prettydisgrace On Friday, March 9, 2007, prettydisgrace (96)By person wrote:

    excellently written.. now i just need a cigarette. damn.

  • Jaded Ireland On Friday, March 9, 2007, Jaded Ireland (26)By person wrote:

    I read this once before and have come across it again. I really like this poem.

  • Lynaes On Monday, February 12, 2007, Lynaes (859)By person wrote:

    I read this a while ago.. and I always come back to it. Your use of metaphor, your cigarette complying with the emotions caused by the conversation is absolutely perfect. I must favourite this.

  • zanewill On Saturday, January 27, 2007, zanewill (84)By person wrote:

    great imagery... the mundane meets profound! excellent write, Carmina

  • wicked flesh On Wednesday, November 8, 2006, wicked flesh (22)By person wrote:


  • Dei On Friday, May 19, 2006, Dei (665)By person wrote:

    Omg. You have completely captered the "break up" This was perfection from line to line. -lights up a ciggarette-

  • mywristshurt On Thursday, April 27, 2006, mywristshurt (408)By person wrote:

    i loved ths poem sense i first read it.. which was a while back.. and i still love it to this day

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