Poetry 2011 / Volume 42

Peculiar Smoke — Michael T. Young

The smell of clove cigarettes climbed the escalators
carried in a basket of nostalgias
bound to its claustrophobic weave as tight as our studio
back in the summer of 1990
where I first tasted that peculiar smoke,
three of us living in one room for the sake of art,
love and adventure, the August heat an impossible weight
dripping from us like a future rooted in New York streets
until it called itself home.
It was a summer of brandy, sex and poetry,
when we believed in nothing except our passions
and obsessions and picked at the one loose thread
in the tapestry, its story unraveled
until no one could remember how it went,
only, here and there, a little color, a bit of scenery,
a shaft of summer light like a support beam
running under the floor of tomorrow’s weather,
a passage of music threading reflections in the window
and making sense of it all only years later
in the click of an escalator,
its cycle of rotating belts and collapsing steps
carrying me up and down and through
the long, circular days.

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