Candy Cigarettes by Greg Watson

Candy Cigarettes

We bought them with the nickels
and pennies of our weekly allowance
at the Little General corner store,
tucked them hastily in small paper sacks
along with the crystal blue and amber jewels
of hard candy, the stale Tootsie Rolls,
Red Hots, and aptly named Jawbreakers.
We practiced looking tough, or just thoughtful,
practiced those mannered turns and gestures
of the wrist, flicking imaginary ashes
upon the ground, or into our open palms,
white sticks of sugar dangling from
the corners of our mouths as we spoke,
blew imaginary smoke rings toward
the blue shimmering sky, tapping one end
of the pack against the soft mounds
below our thumbs, the way we had seen
the grownups do. We learned to squint like
the stars of westerns and war movies,
rolled the crinkling packs into the shoulders
of our thin cotton tees, before setting off
on Big Wheels and bikes, the sand and
broken glass of housing project sidewalks
crunching beneath our wheels, toward a future
already being written for us, up there
amongst the shifting clouds.

by Greg Watson

Editor’s Note:┬áThis poem is richly nostalgic, so much so that even knowing the damage both cigarettes and candy can wreak, the reader can’t help but be catapulted back to the innocence of childhood.