Stephanie Young

Studying Cigarettes

Some of the planes still sound too loud for me, even though they say you get used to it, after a while you don't hear BART if it runs through your backyard like in North Berkeley and West Oakland. Is there a difference, doing it on the keyboard? I'm not even over my allotment of cigarettes for the day and I'm starting to get an idea this isn't the best way to quit. I've got my furtive relationship with smoking back again. It's not that enjoyable and I worry about my legs going bad, the problem I learned about tonight in yoga class, how great pain might result from the continued use of an object after its intention or spiritual quality has already been fulfilled. Like you can use a backbend over and over again but not a cigarette. I worry about the poem getting exhausted. Last night I made chicken curry sandwiches on an oblong square of crustless bread, Iron Kids for kids who hate crust but adults can put chicken curry between the bread and then cut the sandwich into four neat triangles and not feel totally disgusting eating sandwiches at their desk. Lunch is ruining my keyboard. The idea of ditching work for the movies has inspired in me a great rash of work. I like the movies too and television if I can lie on the floor when I watch it. I like wearing your black hoody with your name on the chest like a workman or a boxer. When you were a boy with your brothers, you called dress socks businessmens and so if I'm seized with a real desire to smell your socks or your feet as they come out of them, the businessmens I say because it sounds elegant or old fashioned but it's only a sock that's been worn by a man, and a way of wanting to smell it. This is not an effect I'm trying for. Your hoody is soft on the inside and I think of it as French terry, not to be washed with zippers or buckles, while I wait on the phone for dinner reservations. I move the props around, hoody, sutra, they are husks I am trying to get onto my body instead of sloughing off. The worst part in all of this is admitting to the self that it's the self which is unmanageable, myself I guess not like drinks or drugs or sex although I have this deep understanding of cigarettes. Nothing outside can cure you but everything's outside. If the poem can really be composed of trash I intend to test this. Real trash: I put a cigarette out first on the sidewalk in front of Elizabeth's house and then again after the reading in the gravel of her driveway because I'm in fear of lighting fires in the trashcan. Just Doolittle over and over again and a bad recording in the car and the car covered all over in birdshit. Empty cups of yogurt in the black plastic tub of trash that sits by my desk at the office and keeps me from crawling under the desk and sleeping there every afternoon, like Deborah in HR at my first office job. I finished off the beautiful cherries in a rapid hog style at the end of the reading, I could talk to the poets from Portland because they seemed made up here on their imaginary road trip with sweet high voices and black glasses. I was struck down by sleep then and poets were passing by afterwards arranging type by hand. I was a child who only wanted to talk about the vagaries of Mt. Rushmore. Seeing you late at night all the time is great this time around, always in pajamas or laying on the floor. I try hard all the time to make long range plans, beyond sandwiches and to thoughtfully consider what appears to be my career of assistant, and failing to introduce myself at readings even when asked very nicely via email. I want to run into the wall of the social like a glass egg, not to say there is a toy or surprise at the center or that for my self I'd employ the same metaphor so often used upon me earlier to explain about the trinity, and the spirit, and the shell which holds it all together even when blown out through a safety pin sized hole. All day today and some of yesterday I waited for 2:15 so that I could leave the office and go to the movies with you. In an email to Sabrina, I wrote I'm playing hooky and then realized I don't know how to spell hooky, and that either way it sounds like a nickname for hooker. Del's poem calls a cigarette white, which kills me as though he had described a new hybrid fruit, even though they actually are white, the paper and the smoke as well smoke is just smoke but still, I would never call them white, maybe that's the painful part: to look past the image of a thing so that I can obsess about its function. In the movie, Andy Goldsworthy's egg shaped pile of rocks, I'm sorry but I can't describe it any better than that, rose from the beach a little further each time in proportion he said to his understanding of the stone and the beach he was building them on. I'm doomed, I feel cheerful about it. Writing that keeps falling on the page for lack of balance. Andy has a quiet way of saying shit with his hands behind his head and then the tide which is relentless. I got to work early this morning and stayed late last night so that I could leave early I guess that's not playing hooker. The morning meeting got pushed out of shape into the afternoon and I said yes to a whole list of things out of sheer desperation it was getting past 2:15. In the car I was late and Doolittle sang about whores in your bed and I was starting to sweat because you were already mad and thinking I'm always late, I called some of the other drivers names, especially when I got stuck on Shattuck Ave., I said Fucker! more than once and even to myself I seemed ashamed, I was glad no one heard me on my way to the movies. But Andy didn't say a thing about how he always collects so many of one material, like all the dandelions on the lane to float in a stone hole on the river, they're everywhere in Scotland in the movie. Doesn't this say something about depletion? As nervous as I've been about my legs and making a series of lateral moves which will wind up in what used to be called a boarding house in novels a studio I guess, a kitchenette, and probably still smoke cigarettes and eat sandwiches or bran muffins and then have no money, at the movies I thought I couldn't wait to get old. There were crowds of old people really elderly ones in pairs at the movies at 2:45 on a Tuesday afternoon. Nobody looks at you when you're that old and then I won't mind, I love the movies. I can have an apple for my mouth, too, between engagements.