The first one in the pack hurts the worst.

“Why did I do this?” you’re thinking, smacking the pack against your palm,

or your steering wheel, or your leg on the couch.

Match or lighter, depending on your fortune, you light it and struggle through it, pretending it’s a good time.

While it burns, you feel the burning in your wallet, and in your lungs.

A whole pack goes: a night, a day, a week.


But you don’t pay much attention until the 3rd to last.

The one before the penultimate cigarette.

The third to last cigarette tastes the best;

for the moment you don’t have to worry about buying any,

but you also don’t have to worry about having any.

You don’t have to keep them on you, or even near you at all.

You could forget, even, and find the box two weeks later,

when you’re tired of holding your breath around your parents,

so you retreat to your car for a long drive disguised as a night out with your girl friends.


The penultimate cigarette, as a mentioned earlier,

is the perfect time to start fiddling with the ultimatum, t

he one you’ve put off since the moment you bought them:

Buy more          or      knock it off.

You burn the whole thing,

and then another,

thinking about something else.

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