KG Newman - The Health Benefits of Smoking, Absolute Magnitude
The Health Benefits of Smoking
Back when you could just smoke anywhere in America I flew with my grandfather
aboard the Continental jet he worked on. In a begrimed cabin I began to understand the conflicting etymologies for “utopia” while coughing and laughing with him
all the way to Chicago.
But now, in a health-conscious age, I’m hardly able to vape on street corners while
I often think of my grandfather, stomach ravaged from the asbestos cancer, and how
if 12-year-old me were thinking quickly I would’ve slid one more death stick into his trembling mouth and lit it.
Today’s memories don’t hang around in flower wallpaper like they used to, so you can’t brush up aside it on the way out to a long day’s work and remember
all the bits of hard wisdom amid easy games of catch. He’d say modern cigarettes
are watered down. He’d sit on the dropped tailgate, Camel and a hack saw
in his hands, ready to lacerate the clouds and put all my fires out.
All this time pretending to love
could have been spent
learning astrophysics or
Instead the dogpiles
of pre-depression childhood
are the only flint left
in the woods I find myself in,
and I strike them together
hoping not for warmth
but to burn the whole forest
in the pattern of a diamond.
KG Newman is a sportswriter who covers the Colorado Rockies for The Denver Post. His first two collections of poems, While Dreaming of Diamonds in Wintertime and Selfish Never Get Their Own, are available on Amazon. The Arizona State University alum is on Twitter @KyleNewmanDP and more info and writing can be found at kgnewman.com.