How many cigarettes does it take
to get to the center of the moon?
Is it like the Tootsie Pop candy with One
Two Three—And that cartoon
bites open a center of comfort
and chew so hidden
by the staring at this midnight coating?
Is there only ash and oral cancer in the
middle of this sky? A future of rotting teeth
and throat closed to a voice that can no longer
speak aloud to itself? Does my voice
ever really speak to me anyway? I wonder what
my voice sounds like when I One
Two Three—And in my head I hear it
but in the air I only hear my
breath moving away from me.
I like to imagine I am in fact able to know
something of it but obviously it is all only questions.
Every action another attempt to ask why
and to hope for an answer of
Yes I will hold you now
Yes I will hold you
Yes I will
and no one is waiting anymore
to know after One
Two Three— what is at the center of it?
I would like it to be us. Both of us so that the
all of us, those we know and love can simply
enjoy the tacky tootsie and smoky night
of these candy moons and cigarette butt
stars whose embers are already dead but
whose filters we see anyway. Why do I need to
know or want to?
Know the center of
this night: is it not enough to lay here
on the lawn under the stars wrapped in quilts
as what feels like rain
drips from the sky onto our cheeks
and we wonder if we should go inside
but instead we just wait
under all these quilts silently hoping
that on the count of One
Two Three— you will reveal to me a voice
traveling to me rather then only in you
and I will be given the gift of its direction
let alone its truth, as sweet as that candy
coating of nicotine and spit that pours
through the breath of its presence. I am afraid
enough to know that I will not give you
my voice because I will not know what to do
with the moment of its leaving me if you cannot taste
the center of the meaning I thought I knew and
instead I wait One
Two Three—for silence, without a center
under these blankets; just us separately
silently counting in our heads the questions
; just me silently counting the question
of why is this not enough? It is. It is enough
this kind candied rain and smoked sky
but I know that once the center of this is
truly reached, I will not know if you will
come back to offer me another moment
quite so sweet as this. This may be the final
count of One
Two Three—and I will have not have savored
its sweetness nor written it down nor understood
what I saw when we smoked one cigarette together
to find the center of this moon as the clouds covered
us in quilts and dropped rain on our voices.
How many cigarettes does it take to reach
that moment at the end of waiting that is not
the end at all but another count down of
Two Three— here, for you, my voice
aloud not inside as finger tips on my hair
and not inside as curled up figures falling
asleep on the couch
but outside on the lawn wrapped in quilts
with the rain whispering that its voice is for us
to tell each other that the center of it all is—

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