I Only Smoke by Massey Armistead

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I Only Smoke

when someone dies—
like when I’m on the porch
of my childhood home
surrounded by close friends
and family after my grandmother’s wake,

or when I’m with Jonathan’s family celebrating
the life of their patriarch.
Jonathan says give me a cigarette!
even though he never
smokes. We cover the ground
below us with ash
and he gives me a kiss that tastes of old oak.

I only smoke when my best friend Lilly
comes over and we drink not one
but two bottles of wine
and reminisce about our past
errors in judgment
like when she threw
weed out the window
and I threw
a pool party
when grandmother was out of town.

I only smoke when Alabama plays Auburn
and with 15 seconds left Auburn scores
a winning touchdown.

I only smoke when I’m home
alone on Friday nights.

I only smoke on car rides to Atlanta
and in that case it’s three in a row
and Led Zeppelin plays the entire 4 hours.
I only smoke when my friends offer me one.
Or it’s been a month since I’ve had one.
Or the weather is so nice— 70 with a breeze.
Or I’ve had a fender bender on Old Hickory.
I only smoke when I finish a to-do list 50 miles long.

When I see the doctor I know she’ll ask
Have you quit smoking?
I’ll give her the short answer—
I only smoke when I’m drunk.

Massey Armistead

Massey Armistead lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where she sells real-estate in the fast paced “it city.” A graduate of University of Alabama with a focus on English and creative writing, she is a former intern of Slash Pine Press, where she helped with guerilla style readings, chapbook making, and program development. Her work appears in DEWPOINT. A past participant of Writers in New York at NYU, she is currently studying poetry in the low-residency program MTSU Write.