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I like the cool and heft of it, dull metal on the palm,
And the click, the hiss, the spark fuming into flame,
Boldface of fire, the rage and sway of it, raw blue at the base
And a slope of gold, a touch to the packed tobacco, the tip
Turned red as a warning light, blown brighter by the breath,
The pull and the pump of it, and the paper's white
Smoothed now to ash as the smoke draws back, drawn down
To the black crust of lungs, tar and poisons in the pink,
And the blood sorting it out, veins tight and the heart slow,
The push and wheeze of it, a sweep of plumes in the air
Like a shako of horses dragging a hearse through the late centennium,
London, at the end of December, in the dark and fog.

—Elton Glaser

from Winter Amnesties
Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale, IL

Copyright 2000 by Elton Glaser.
All rights reserved.

Reprinted by permission of Southern Illinois University Press from Winter Amnesties. Copyright 2000 by Elton Glaser. For further permissions information, contact Southern Illinois University Press, P.O. Box 3697, Carbondale, Illinois, 62902,

Poetry 180

About the Poet

A longtime resident of Ohio, poet Elton Glaser (1945- ) is the author of seven poetry collections, including The Law of Falling Bodies (University of Arkansas Press, 2013).

Learn more about Elton Glaser at The Poetry Foundation.