Two cigarettes

17:23

Fingers shaking, she fumbles to light it
Lips quivering, cornflower eyes over-large
Underlined, ringed in runny mascara
Bronzer and orange paint

Long blonde hair fashionably streaked
Hanging down like a dingy waterfall
She clamps her clutch beside her
With a slender elbow, shivers

At unseasonal weather in a short skirt
Trying not to cry, this nymph
Ankles wobble on the too-high heels
Waiting for a bus in the rain

Sucking in gasping lungfuls
She smokes her sadness
Twisting suffering to submission
In a single cigarette

18:02

His rumbling growl is subsiding now
The stream of curse words unbroken
Since he staggered down the aisle
Pushing past each passenger

Heading for the back bench
Of the almost empty upper deck
Something inside him is angry
It cannot keep still or quiet

A familiar double click precedes
The billowing clouds of calm
He thunks a window shut
Clad in a cloak of smoke

That may obscure the world
Of see-through stickers
With their pious proclamation
‘No Smoking’, red ring, slash

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The one man band

Drums his heels on carpet tiles
And sucks his teeth in rictus smiles
While stirring soup with clinking spoon
And slurping tea all afternoon

He hums and taps upon the desk
And clears his throat, his sinus, chest
Expectorating ’til he’s blue
And colleagues ask if he’s quite through

But no, the show is scarce begun
He cocks a cheek and fires a gun
And squealing gases fill the room
To signal choral coughing soon

As he counts in one last encore
The yawning stretch with gaping maw
He dons his coat and hurries hence
Oblivious to audience