I strut on the left sidewalk along long street. It's nearly straight ahead to the pet-peddler.

keep your oxytocin supply, high

briskly walking past closed shops, the viet-grocer is still in. An old man in the same jacket as always, looking over receipts. Or something.

fill your easel with shades of sky

the moon is so bright tonight. Not completely full, I remind myself it's not actually glowing, just mirroring enough visual light from the sun to cast long shadows between the blocks of long street.

why, don't we fear sufficiently, to die

at the counter, I ask for my old brand. Just nostalgia, I suppose. Habitual brand loyalty, amidst attempts to break away from the branded allusions of freedom for nickle and dime.



The peddler doesn't have change in the register for my oversized orange, and has to go to the back room safe box to fetch enough notes. There are more addicts in the line behind me.

did you miss me?

Finally, he returns, vacantly handing me some blue, red and green bits of cotton paper of varying sizes, along with a black and blue golden rectangle, and a firestarter.

you always regret it in the morning

outside the yellow light puddles of the pet-peddlers, I rip off the foil on the top of the pack. The little plastic pull tab is always easy to grab and strip off. They must have spent a lot of time perfecting that design.


the lid props open, revealing a moisture barrier of metallized paper. It slips out of the box with a little noise, like dealing a card from a crisp, shuffled deck.


I thumb a white cylinder from the box. It looks stubby in my hands. Were they always this short? The scent of cured Virginia reminds me of a thousand things.


and we're off. Back to the times by the porch in the army, hiding after lights out under a window I knew gave the guard inside the illusion of an overview.

you know you love me

The familiar shape in my hand, the light acridity reminding you just how fucked up your needs are to require or desire something like this.

it's not like you don't know better

At the corner of the closed chain-grocery shop, I crush the little pellet in the filter. The acrid perfume discovers a hint of freshness.

did they always burn this fast?

on the right hand sidewalk now, the same as before. Two young men approaching ahead, I glance over my shoulder and cross to left.

It's never like you think it looks

I fret with the stick in my fingers, rotating it, cupping the ember so I feel infrared rads against my palm

just like hiding the light in the army under light discipline. But it was never hidden enough, you can still see it from hundreds of meters away.

Pondering the nature of addiction, "comfort" appears in a business advertising plumbing goods. A fitting observation, given the circumstances.

end of the road, kid

where long street goes on and short street sticks out to my left, the ember draws closer to the black circle at the beginning of the fibrous plug at the end.

flick, grind.

I always wonder if cigarette butts clog the drain pipes, or just get flushed to sea.

faint glow next to the metal grid in the asphalt, a tiny trace of human activity.

in short street, right into the side of red house, through to the yellow gate, up the stairs and in the door.

when can I go again?