Cigarette in a glass ashtray

love like cigarettes

What is love? Like the heart from which it stems,
it pumps, warms, circulates, brings us to life.
Love carries us smiling, from one day to the next,
infectious, all-consuming love,
until such time comes, if ever it comes,
that the delicate mechanisms of love work no more,
grinding, shuddering like a great, weary clock,
pheromones, hormones, inclinations,
they conspire to end their flow and love,
love grows cold, snow and ice,
the mind no longer cares, eyes no longer see,
we, blind to vivid colours and gentle touch.

Love like cigarettes, an addiction enjoyed
until lungs turn black, angels become devils,
cancer grows and our lips, like dogs’, curl back.

Love turned to stone weighs heavy on the chest,
torturing, no longer burning bright, but blistering,
backed into a corner like an animal for slaughter,
afraid, unsure, not knowing what will come next,
remembering nothing about free-range romance.

Our fortunes wither on the vine,
pounds become pennies, poverty.
What is this clinging film? we ask,
conspiring with foul atmosphere
to suffocate, humiliate us all.

Love like a war photo fades to sepia brown,
families curdle like milk, lovers become enemies,
calls go unanswered or straight to voicemail,
rejected. We keep calm,
like the poster said, carry on.
Spirit of the Blitz, some fall, others keep longing.

Ah! But love that succeeds is a different thing,
ripe with rainbows, ignorant of guilt,
making us forget the errors we have been.
It grows, flowers. It does not dwindle,
the leper healing, birds singing
of joy, nutrition, an end to entropy.

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andrew hinkinson
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