Thirteen Ways Of Looking At Tobacco

The chew slowly liquefied
like dead vegetation
into the black bog
of his mouth.

Spat out in contempt,
the chewing tobacco
struck the floor
she mopped clean
only yesterday;
her head bowed
and her face flinching.

The tobacco was cut down,
tied tightly,
and hoisted up
to hang upon a rope
in the forgetful rafters
of the lynch mob’s barn.

The tobacco leaves shivered nervously
as the farmer passed by,
his machete winking
in the light of dawn
and whispering
sibilant promises
as the blade dangled overhead.

Rolled up snugly
in a white cigarette sheet,
like his wife in their honeymoon bed—
the tobacco, also, was not as pure as he had thought.

He stripped tobacco as a child,
learning quickly
how his hardwork
would be blown up in smoke
by the wealthy
in their easy leisure.

The cure for his anxiety
was the chew in his teeth,
and the anxiety itself
was the need to chew—
Ouroboros thus chewed itself.

His jaw muscles were as taut
as banjo strings,
and the twang of his
tuneless tongue
set her into a jig of rage.

The black ichor of his tobacco
oozed slowly down his broken jaw;
a swollen leech glutting in blood.

The stained tobacco jar sat
in the middle of the living room
like the sins of that household
visible for all to see.

They gathered the plants onto the wagon
like the strewn dead of the Civil War.

The little tin of Skoal
left behind by his coworker
on his desk, in his office,
was the same petty grudge
canned and distributed
to all of their coworkers.

He snapped the peace pipe
in two
because the flavor of their people’s
repulsed him so.

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