Poem Begining With a Line from James Schuyler: A reply to “Twilight, West New York” || John Repp

Smoke it like a cigarette, don’t chew it like a cigar
unless you first truly study the wet & shining tip
of a panatela—how tender, how slick when just lit,
what delight to bite delicately as you smoke it down,
now & then rolling it between fingers & thumb,

brandishing it, twist-tapping ash into the amber ashtray.
The gray of the December city in mid-afternoon begs
not to be noticed as you daydream, pluck a shred
of tobacco off tongue-tip, send another stream

of blue smoke toward the ceiling, water dripping
into the tub behind the solid-oak door over there,
the fresh enamel coat yours, spread tenderly, the brush

licking every satiny inch of the beveled surface,
muted light in aromatic dusk, more care now to take

when you reach for the knob, turn, pull & you’re in.

 

John Repp grew up near the Palace Depression in Vineland, New Jersey. His latest book is Fat Jersey Blues, published in 2014 by the University of Akron Press.