Lars rolled down the window of his truck
Proffered me a cigarette
I sighed heavy, shook my head
It’d been three months
“Pull up over here, man.
If I’m smoking on this trip
I need a pack of Newports.”
“When did you start smoking
Lips peeled back in disgust
Wheezed a chuckle
Following the highway out passed
the telephone poles
covered in Mardi Gras beads
Leaving the screaming and the music
of early March 2014
in New Orleans
Swapped out one scratched mix CD
Just the way it’s always been with us
but not quite
“It’s tough, you know, because
I still feel like a piece of shit
most all of the time.
But it’s better than it’s ever been.”
He stamped his cigarette out
on the rim of a Diet Coke can
Moved his gaze to me
Hoping I knew the feeling
Over the causeway and out
into the swamp
The air thickens
They creep over your skin
and rest heavy in your chest
Words you can’t scrape off the tip
of your tongue
A history you know better than your own
but never witnessed
“I’m more hopeful than I have been
my whole entire life
and I still don’t know
if I can do this.”
Climbing out of the truck
pulling on scarves and gloves
It was colder than I thought it’d be
when I packed late last month
We leaned against the cab like
bald cypress knees
Perpetual death rattles
drenched in uncertainty
I ask him over and over
“Are you sure those things aren’t dead?”
“Nah, dude. They just grow like that.”
12 thoughts on “NOLA”
quite solemn but love the bit about menthol cigarettes :p if you either love ’em or you hate ’em
Right? When I was a smoker I’d always warn people bumming them that they were menthols.
I once had a homeless woman who couldn’t speak very clearly tap me repeatedly and gesture at me until I finally figured out she was asking for a cigarette.
I offered one, but when she realized it was a menthol, she was like MY BAD, CARRY ON.
Hah! That’s hilarious. Beggers CAN be choosers.
This. Is. So. Good.
Thank you so much! I wrote the beginning of it while out running. I had to repeat it over and over until I had paper.
I have been there. I used to draft in my head while on shift in the restaurant and repeat over and over until I could take a break and punch a note into my phone.
I’m sure it’s a common problem among us thinking types.
But really, submit this to somewhere. Please.
Phenomenal, like the first scene of a really great movie. Powerful.
Thank you so much.
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