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Poetry of Issue #8        Page 56

The Smokers

They know what they know
            on stoops,
            in windows
            and vestibules
They watch us pass,
            the people who have no time
            to sit on steps
            or yell from streets
            or knock on neighbors' doors.
They know what they know
            as the sun ticks higher
            and they find their shade.
They scan cell screens for news
            and some still read the papers.
They ignore addiction and disease.
They know what the world can do
            when you’re always running
            from one appointment
to the next.
They are a galaxy of answers
            as trails swirl over their heads
                 and the sun beats down
            from its highest point.
They complain about the heat and cold
            but don’t care enough
            to change their clothes.
Instead they sneer at people’s
            wardrobe shuffle
            from summer to fall,
            from Sunday to Monday,
            from noon to night,
            a sea of fabric
            they could set alight
            with flicks of ash.
They know what they know.
            The world is too safe
            today. All they hear is
            they’re supposed to quit
            everything they like
            as if they could
            block all sidewalks
            so no one could pass,
            as if they could change
            the sun’s course
            as it slips through the clouds.
They disappear a while
            but always come back,
            pounding packs into palms
            on their way to benches
            where they watch one another
            from afar for signs
            that what they’re doing is just
            a part of life.
They know what they know
            and wonder sometimes
            how they got here,
            until someone else walks by.
They are pure
            in their single mind.
They are here to get what they need
            to ease burdens
            and offer lights,
            to inhale the sweetest
            poisons of the day.

  George Guida