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July 2019 Vol. 15 No. 2

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Mark Forrester


I have been off cigarettes for almost a year, but I fall back into the habit quickly when I begin hanging out with Loni, switching out my unfiltered Lucky Strikes for her mentholated Newports.

At the beginning of the evening she carefully removes the cellophane from a fresh pack, inverts the first cigarette, and taps it gently back into the soft box. This is her wish cigarette.

Throughout the evening Loni pulls out two cigarettes at a time – one for her, another for me – and lights them with a disposable lighter. We sit and smoke, talking about work and poetry, until late at night, watching as our friends shuffle past to bed.

When there are two cigarettes left, she hands me the first, then takes out the last, her wish cigarette. I hold my unlit cigarette in my hand, staring into her face, as Loni squeezes her eyes shut, making a secret wish upon her Newport.

slow moving clouds
entangled again
the crescent moon