Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Quitting

Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Quitting

Article excerpt

Tomorrow is the great awaited Smoke-Out.

Today I'll implant steel rods in my spine,

Rev up the old will power, chase off doubt,

Command my grody craving to resign.

I started on the countdown when I woke;

My leather case contains ten weeds I broke

In half. I'll ease up on the dawn's taboo

Dispassionate and calm, sans ballyhoo.

These things are simple if well-planned; I'm set.

Just keep it cool, that's all I have to do.

Tonight I'll have my final cigarette.

I won't be like those chronic bores who tout

Their victory over habit's fist. I'll shine

With sheer example, careful not to sprout

White wings and halo. Gracious and benign,

Not spewing sermons, just a quiet stroke

Of genius in the frenzied fumes. An oak

Against temptation. -Maybe if I chew

Some gum this urgency will pass, this corkscrew

In my brain demanding ransom. Gee, I bet

Myself I'd last till breakfast. I've had two!

Tonight I'll have my final cigarette!

Now drop your voice an octave, please don't shout.

Don't jump ahead so far, don't undermine

Resolve before you've started on the bout.

Relax. This system's gonna work just fine.

When I feel weak I'll give my pride a poke

And hole up in my office, maybe stoke

The bod all day with candy bars in lieu

Of lunch, and coffee-up with stronger brew.

Relax. And do whatever seems to whet

Determination. -Is it really true?

Tonight I'll have my final cigarette? …

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