The Best Cigarette – Billy Collins

There are many that I miss 

having sent my last one out a car window 

sparking along the road one night, years ago. 
The heralded one, of course: 

after sex, the two glowing tips 

now the lights of a single ship; 

at the end of a long dinner 

with more wine to come 

and a smoke ring coasting into the chandelier; 

or on a white beach, 

holding one with fingers still wet from a swim. 
How bittersweet these punctuations 

of flame and gesture; 

but the best were on those mornings 

when I would have a little something going 

in the typewriter, 

the sun bright in the windows, 

maybe some Berlioz on in the background. 

I would go into the kitchen for coffee 

and on the way back to the page, 

curled in its roller, 

I would light one up and feel 

its dry rush mix with the dark taste of coffee. 
Then I would be my own locomotive, 

trailing behind me as I returned to work 

little puffs of smoke, 

indicators of progress, 

signs of industry and thought, 

the signal that told the nineteenth century 

it was moving forward. 

That was the best cigarette, 

when I would steam into the study 

full of vaporous hope 

and stand there, 

the big headlamp of my face 

pointed down at all the words in parallel lines.

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