On giving up smoking

by Brendan Strong

Forever giving up smoking.

To stop myself smoking, I remind myself:

When the interminable twist in my stomach comes and the tightness rises in my head: I am giving up smoking.

When irritants arrive and assemble cramming my mind, crowding around and poking to spike my reason: I am giving up smoking.

I will live longer. I will love longer. I will protect longer. For those who need me to: I am giving up smoking.

I thought I stopped

for three months before.

I sprayed a nettle-minty-spray that scraped my throat

and made me hiccup and made me speak

with a rushed husky whisper until I could find some water…

It kept me from smoking.

But you never don’t want to smoke.

And when you can’t tell yourself not to, you will.

I will be giving up smoking forever; never stopped forever.