Jake Bailey Cigar Burn

The ash train of my cigar

dangles over the edge of my

kitchen table, smoke filled plumes

haunting my outlined guise

that remains pale in

the soft flickering shadows

floating about the window.


With each draw, it threatens to

dust the surface for prints left

from an August card game

played under the lit skies of summer’s

apex, traces of the games we play

in earnest innocence.


Exhaling, a white ring descends

to the surface, briefly swallowing

the glass, orbiting the cylinder in

an endless parade

of cyclic, smoldering vapor, an eternal

return that draws from the atemporal

fathoms of alienated solemnity.


Falling, the embers breach the

phantasmic ectoplasm of the spirit’s flight,

disrupting the gaseous fumes, sending entrails

skyward, seeking its formerly visible self

in the corners of the room.


Drawing once more on the smoky brown twig,

I place the still glowing tip on the palm

of my outstretched hand, singeing the soft

layers of flesh and cauterizing the blackening

exterior. Moved by motionless wind blowing

in through the closed window,

my breathy specters begin to fill the darkened cavity,

inhaled by a newfound mouth hungrily consuming

that which should not be.


As the light fades, my body

begins to dissipate, smoke taking form, sketching

a boundary between the mundane

and ethereal in the confines of the chasm

found at the focal point of my now tingling digits,

liminality undulating in concrete, intangible shapes.

As my exterior starts to fade,

I am tossed into the Parmenidian sea just

beyond the periphery of my emptying self,

becoming nothing,

becoming the nothing,

becoming the no-thing.


Unmoved mover, one drifts

from the Nowhere and settles in

the ashen remnants of the once spiraling

smoke ring, still spinning somewhere

outside of the plane where

eidos and matter intersect, where

carnal beings subsist in ignorance

and covered truths scream to be

unearthed, caressing the ears

of those who are beginning

to hear silence.


Peaceful though it may be,

suddenly I am

drawn back through the throbbing hole,

cast as a man with whom I share nothing

in common, whose motivation sits in

the bottom of the ashtray, absence

smoking in perpetuity.


Extinguishing my final cigar,

I bandage the portal to the space that separates

You from Me, trying to come up with

words to describe the wordless,

the I behind the I

that fans the flames of burning bushes

and fiery pillars that lead us out of the

desert of ourselves.


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