the weekly


I take a last gasp of freedom,
through slashed red lips. My clean teeth:
I grin and bare them, or

drag the swimmers' lungs
underwater. I am a protected species,
all mouth and the trousers

of divers I've eaten. No smoke without
the fire in my ember eyes;
I am matchless, I am smooth and cool and

now I've been banned. Last orders.
One puff, and that's it.
No more basking by the bar, no victims, no

small beer to down, nothing to suck
the living daylights out of.
Shark alone. If I wish to kill, then I must

barge my way into gaol, into the large
aquarium they call the hospice.

They cannot smoke me out.
But here, behind toughened glass,
I will run smoke-rings round warders,

be moody, be mean.
Into the jaws of death, a life sentence,
with no full stop, merely a comma

hanging from my wide lip,
banged up, the king of snout.
Roll up, roll up. And take my tip.

Peter Benchley, the author of “Jaws”, died. Smoking was banned in pubs and clubs (although not prisons or hospitals).
February 15 2006


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