Smoke

Sickly sweet scent
of scorched incense
sticking to my skin

Stamped separately,
a baby bird touched
by human hands

Cigarette smoke’s sapped
insurmountable spans
of my parents’ lives
measurable only in death
like rings on trees

They softly speak:
“I’ll stop, I swear, this time”
yet the cigarette never seems
to secede from lips lightly coated
with nicotine

And I wonder how we got here
how did these companies
these bands of thieves
deceive beings to suck in sick
via small vials of disease

And that’s why
in smoke I walk warily
breath held so I barely
breathe these brainwashing
butts of dependency

and for my parents’ perilous paralysis
I pray for perforated practices
pitifully knowing this may never be

But I end this peroration proudly
perceiving I can prevent this pattern
in me
and be the change I want to see

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