by Nishant Bagadia

It started with the atom.

Walked to the Citgo
while the ash hung from the tip
of my cigarette, my life on the edge.

Dripping sweat collected
on the sidewalk, a pool of lost hope.
Bones boiling like a temper
I lit another:
$3.99 for a pack of Cancer
and no one to stop me.

A sunny red Cadillac reflected my black hair
in the mirror of its bumper, its beauty
contradicting my glistening face,
I sat on the curb to ease my nerves,
like a whiskey sour in the evening.

She stepped out of the car like an actress
on Oscar night, a Ms. Monroe in rose,
a face as cool as the dew on a lily
and eyes, soft like wet sand.
I put out my cigarette to stare.

Her smile carried her lips
as if to say,

"you're all I ever wanted."

I stared at the ground:
there he was, winking,
hiding exactly
where we started.

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