• Poetry

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.

Absolute Magnitude

All this time pretending to love 

could have been spent 

learning astrophysics or 

studying Voltaire. 

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.


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