I could filch a beer sometimes,
but not smokes. Cigarettes were held
in the first hand. Cartons stacked
in the hall closet next to the 100-pack
of matches. Plastic and foil for freshness.
Five kids, lungs coated with soot.
The second hand stuttered through minutes,
hours, the etc. of our lives in that yellow kitchen.
Yellow, yellower. Coffee mugs stained brown,
browner. Also, the paper bags of choked bottles.
Also, the lit match and the wrist shaking.
The red eyes of our mornings. Dark outside,
but it'd get lighter. It had
no choice. We inhaled.
-- Jim Daniels
Jim Daniels lives in Oakland and teaches at Carnegie Mellon University. His new books include Now Showing (ahadada books), Revolt of the Crash-Test Dummies (Eastern Washington University Press), Mr. Pleasant (Michigan State University Press) and In Line for the Exterminator (Wayne State University Press). Many writers featured in Chapter & Verse are guests of Prosody, produced by Jan Beatty and Ellen Wadey. Prosody airs every Tuesday at 7 p.m. on independent radio, WYEP 91.3 FM.