Your wife called me

                                        your father
who also smoked
in his young stupid days
because movie stars and cowboys did
and his parents said it was bad 
but smoked constantly in front of him--

about your lung cancer diagnosis
because your 52 year old self
is curled up on their couch
refusing to talk to anyone


your two sons, the engineer and the artist
who never smoked for some glorious reason
even though most nicotine-raised children almost always do


in other towns
they begged you
not to smoke for years and gave up
because you would not

or read the letter we wrote
begging you to quit
because we had seen the ones 
before who did not

die in such dirty, x-ray screaming,
gasping, choking ways
made their inevitable demise
worse than it would have been

                                       but now
what can we do
except commiserate with someone we love
cannot turn the clock back one second 
because time is all you have
and all you ever had 
and it is going to be shorter and worse 
by far than it would have been


what your best friend in your band, 
the best drummer in town,
just before he died


a story we often told you: 

It is my fault. It is all my fault.
I did this to myself. 

Originally published in Ariel Chart