- Essays: On The Road (And A Little Off)


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     ode to laws:

     i took up smoking 3 times.

     when i was 12
     i smoked to be older
     then my mother told me it was ok with her
     if i smoked
     so i didn't any longer.

     then in high school i smoked
     so i could hang out with my friends
     outside at a
     with friends
     to be what i thought was
     a member.

     a member:
     a person who belonged
     who had a reason to be there.
     to belong.

     i realized i didn't belong anyway so
     i did other things

     then when i was 54 the state outlawed
     smoking in taverns

     i didn't smoke in taverns when the law was
     the people that i admired and leant an ear to
     the state forced them outside to smoke
     my ears are small
     they did not reach from the table of wisdom
     to the sidewalk where the smokers were now

     so i accompanied them outside to their
     smoking sidewalks
     the state sent them there
     and i followed
     and as i stood listening to them and
     watching the weather and breathing
     the fresh air tinged with tobacco aroma
     and following the setting sun and tracking
     the incoming rain clouds.

     i realized the smokers
     were not leaving the moving pictures
     theatre in the middle of the day to
     be blinded by the sunshine
     they were already out there
     they were forced out there
     in the fresh air and the changing weather
     and recovered the time that they once had
     lost in taverns

     so at 54 i took up smoking again
     now when i stand smoking on the deck of the
     home that my wife and i
     purchased from my mother
     and when i stand smoking on the acreage of
     the cabin we purchased with the
     money left to us when she died
     i smoke
     and i watch the stars
     there are not many stars to see in Seattle
     the airplanes arriving and leaving are
     brighter and keep a better schedule
     than any stars that can be seen thru the
     filter of haze in the big coastal

     however, when i am at the cabin in Malo, WA
     there are no scheduled airplanes to see
     but the stars are infinite
     which i would not see
     except for my recent bad habit
     that forces me outside
     to witness the depth
     the layers
     the many constellations
     that one cannot see thru the pollution of city
     or thru the ceiling of any tavern

     i thank tobacco and the state of washington
     for sending me outside
     to enjoy the cameraderie and the
     luminescence of the night sky with friends

                                          ---Brian Curry