10 Cigarettes

Poetry in free verse

10 Cigarettes

Poetry in free verse

On the day I left,
you gave me a packet of cigarettes.
Yes, that same old pack of Marlboros
you and I smoked together that night
we stood side by side
on the sky-bridge,
looking at the city lights below,
counting out dreams,
the ones we’ll realise
and those we’ll let go
(including the dreams of ‘us’).
‘Something to remember me by,’
you said with that cheeky grin
that made my heart flutter each time.

When I lit that first cigarette,
I remembered your voice-
the way you rolled my name
in your mouth as you uttered it
making it sound succulent,
precious — 
something I’ve never felt about my name before.

The second cigarette
brought back memories
of the time I noticed
that spark in your eyes,
and how once I saw it,
I couldn’t stop looking into them,
hoping you wouldn’t notice
(or maybe hoping you would).

The third cigarette was all about
the fire you lit in my senses -
the one I couldn’t douse with whiskey,
the one that burned, incessant,
all night till I had to tell you
how I felt,
knowing I’d be hurt if you denied me,
but caring not,
for there was no other way
this would end.

The fourth cigarette
brought back a smile
mirroring yours as you heard me out,
that enthusiastic nod
when you said yes,
and that flicker of hope
flaring through my body -
yet desiring so much.

The fifth cigarette was magic,
it was passion,
it was something long-dead inside me
you brought to life with your lips,
your hands,
your naked skin.
The fifth cigarette was something
I was running from,
but couldn’t help running to — 
because you’d settle for nothing less.
The fifth cigarette was madness.

The cigarette after that
was cuddles and sweet talk,
massages and laughter,
stories of childhood and sleep;
it was your body wrapped around mine
like a question mark
seeking solutions,
and the knowledge
that though I yearned nothing less,
I wasn’t — I couldn’t be — 
your answer.

The seventh cigarette
was the morning after,
that desperate need for time to slow down,
so we could steal a few more moments.
The seventh cigarette was knowing
that no matter how many moments we stole,
they would never be enough,
we would never have enough
of each other.

The eight cigarette was a knowing smile,
a tear quickly brushed away,
an admission never made,
a promise lingering in the air
never spoken out loud,
a yearning,
an acceptance,
an assurance that we are more than our emotions.
We are more than this love.

The ninth cigarette was goodbye,
one last kiss,
one last hug,
one last moment of revelling
in a privilege
we would never have again.

The tenth cigarette
is me standing on my balcony,
looking down at the city lights below,
counting out dreams,
dreams of us we would never realise,
only, this is a different city,
and I nurture different dreams.
The tenth cigarette is a letting-go,
a moving on,
a bittersweet melange of moments lived in gay abandon,
and a love that was never meant to be -
a love that has no expectations,
a love that makes no demands.

Now, there are no more cigarettes,
only ashes.
Now, there is no more you,
only memories.

Author’s note: If you liked this piece of work, you would definitely enjoy my best (and previously unpublished) poems which are curated in my book: Stolen Reflections: Some Stories Are Told in Verse. It is a collection of 100 poems exploring 15 different traditional poetry forms, including the haiku, tanka, limerick, palindrome and the modern free verse.

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