When you sell a cigarette
for a quarter, you make a profit
of seven cents.
When you sell a cigarette for a quarter, you go from 18 to 17 or 11 to ten or three to two.
When you sell your last cigarette
for a quarter, it's an act of love
or stupidity (those blind, babbling siamese twins
When you sell a cigarette for a quarter, you look into the eyes of your customer
is she a child in pornstar makeup, too young to buy her own pack or to know that after a while, it won't be novel?
is she a woman cheating on her man, embracing nihilism because the damage has been done and the mistakes cannot be unmade?
is he so destitute that this quarter is far too much, but old and owning nothing save his pride, who won't remember when you see him again that you refused the quarter until he insisted?
is he a businessman striking up conversation, a man used to hiding a bizarre predilection for asphyxsiation because his mother never hugged him but, stoned on valium, told him to play outside and be quiet?
is she a lonely girl, pretending to read emily bronte with far away eyes, questioning her sexuality?
is he a tired father on the brink of divorce, close to crying on the shoulder of a stranger?
is she merely a cashier who left home while it was dark with her hair still wet, forgetting her cigarettes?
When you sell a cigarette for a quarter, the voyeuristic spell
When you sell a cigarette for a quarter, you have to interact and too often the stories you make up for passersby
are reflected as lies.
When you sell a cigarette for a quarter
, it's twenty-five cents
more in your pocket and one less cigarette you'll smoke before you open the next pack.