I smoke with regret. Every pleasurable pull poisonous, the American tobacco stains

to vomit my insides at first, to gag a wave billowing from inside, a cloud—

smoke swallowing, but the smallest payoff, I’m somehow different, then not so small; 

different again, then not so restless—pays handsomely.  I pay the tobacconist a share, 

though there are better days and better living, better times to clear free this dirty crutch.

I could say precious little more.  Just that when our son left the faucet running, 

she scrambled for phone numbers to contact insurance, in her fingers an old Marlboro 

saved for such occasions. Furious at this betrayal, I swiped it from her hands to smoke, 

it had been two years. So unbelievably nasty, and so satisfying, like a dominatrix whipping 

a guy in a Donald Trump mask, I settled into a calm routine, like walking.  

The keys in the ignition, a trip to Circle K, payment in hand,  a Vegas sex worker wrapped 

in leather straps for a forbidden release, in mentholated Newport pleasure.  

I’m still trapped under the whip, and I have my wife freaking out.

The kids are swimming in the hallway, and I am laying down.