An interview with a Cigarette by Tristan Moss

An interview with a Cigarette

How do you cope?

Sometimes, I watch old movies
where I am a symbol
of rebellion and bike-sheds
of good times had,
or a moment
of pensive freedom,
or a last request.

Or I recall
when you would call me
Gauloises or Gitanes
and I was the height
of left-bank existential angst,
nearly everyone
wanting to be seen with me.

And I ask myself,
Could I really have changed so much?

Which of your smokers
do you like the most now?

Those who buy my tobacco in pouches,
like vagrants, revolutionaries
and young romantics.

I feel the roll
of their gentle fingers, thumbs,
the lick of their tongues
on my skin –
not just plucked from a pack
by a stranger.

I know I’m still a product
of their desire to have me,
but at least we share some history,
and however imperfect
my newly formed skin,
they always savour me.

What do you think caused
your fall from grace?

People like you
starting to believe
you’d found within me
an obsessive need to be liked.
How could this be
when the heavier your drag
the more quickly I turned
into ash.

But wasn’t burning bright a part
of that success you so enjoyed?

But it’s strange,
because in my dreams,
I am not this searing cylinder,
cured and oversold.
I am a leaf.


Tristan Moss lives in York with his partner and two young children. He has recently had poems published in The Poetry Shed, Antiphon, Snakeskin, Amaryllis, Lighten Up Online, Open Mouse, Picaroon Poetry and Algebra of Owls.

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