Red Man’s Curse

(1) Butts

No let
or hindrance
to another cigarette, 
no deliverance 
(other than
disgrace of brand 
not he-man,
cheap or bland) 
from being butt
of bad joke,
unkind cut:

(2) Smoke Signal

Comes the season
when treasonous youth
finds reason
for moment of truth:
to strike
and pose macho-like;
to catch
 — prove no pouf — female eye 
with proper props of tough 
puff, puff, puff.

(3) Chains

up prices
of cigarettes
sure as sun rises
 — more cause
for alarm,
for ponderous pause, 
than potential harm 
in this value system — 
but fail to break ball
and chain-smoke: 
hawk of phlegm 
cannot stall.

(4) Sucker

Another nail
bites into coffin
as you inhale
deep, cough in
check thanks to tonics
 — but sick all the same 
of cancer stick,
now no more mere game
 — suck on cigarette — 
deter mind from smoke
 — light another yet — 

(5) Totem Pole

What does it stand
for — for and by whom?
 — doubtless, by dedicated hand
shaped: to groom
the growing, remind
the long-gone elder
 — wooden wisdom of mind
left, as it were, to spur
and prove mystery missing wheel 
(except as Comanche cavalry tactic) grief 
oft brought: too big a deal,
light taken: like tobacco-leaf.

(6) Sacrilege

Do you truly
red man did not duly
make that leap — the link
’tween sacred square
and divine circle?
 — swear
’tis not miracle,
when every other tribe
took that giant step?
 — or did they imbibe
in faith, were hip
to fact that fate
makes wheel two-way deal:
opens the gate
for fast-forward future, or downhill
 — knowing not to touch
a good thing too much —

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