Throwing the Switch

was it the 500,000th
cigarette
that threw the switch,
sent
your light flickering?

i see you bathed in darkness,
no light, no air,
just the rasping
of short-circuitry

Was the timer on before
you were born?
i don’t know…

Maybe the 500,001st
was the nth
of vice,
lights-out for a pulse

If Leibniz were alive, i would
ask him,
but we wouldn’t
share a smoke

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23 thoughts on “Throwing the Switch

  1. Very clever poem (very depressing video link – I’m doomed – Grandfather died at a very young age of exposure to environmental toxins – but lucky it is not that black and white – my Dad went out of his way not to die young – so had a healthy diet, exercised heaps etc., and is still going strong). We can never be sure about what causes cancer, but some things are just obvious as being righrt up there, and tobacco is one of those things.

    • Thanks, Gabrielle. Tobacco is a definite baddie. That’s pretty sad about your grandfather – were they work-related environmental toxins? The video is really quite fascinating and, as you say, the epigenetic question certainly isn’t black and white which is just as well for me too because by all accounts my dad was a ratbag who started smoking at the age of 7. Here’s to a long and healthy life 😀

      • Yes it was work-related (some sort of inhaled dust related lung condition – from plastering). A long and healthy life sounds good – I seem to go from really unhealthy lifestyle to really healthy like a seesaw, on a regular basis (at the moment I’m in the healthy zone – probably because I’ve just had a birthday, plus Mum passing on – gets you thinking about these things). Cheers 🙂

    • Hi Mark – as you would know from your review of Geoff Goodfellows’ ‘waltzing with jack dancer – a slow dance with cancer’, the link between the two and head and neck cancers is strong, so giving up one is at least reducing the odds. And, as you say, we never know – some 100 year olds in China are still smoking…

  2. Good one, bb, a switch seems very appropriate. I’ve only smoked when I’ve been the worse for drink, In that I’m a non smoker but once or twice (;-) ) I’ve reached for someones cigarette. So I don’t really smoke and have no addiction, but looking at the video I hope my ancestors lived a clean and healthy life, what am I saying? I hope and pray they did!! Yikes. xPenx

    • Hi Adee – thanks – I agree some of us have dodgier genes when it comes to these issues – and judging by the fact that not so long ago they thought they had it taped after mapping the human genome and now find it’s not quite as clearcut as they thought – it’s proving to be very complicated indeed.

  3. Smoked in every way when I was younger: cigarettes, cigars, pipe. Funny how it used to be that there was something wrong with you if you didn’t. Times change.

  4. A wonderful poem my friend with such a strong message.

    As a non-smoker but the daughter of a once chain-smoking-mother (who has now quit), I am definitely anti-smoking. The thing is, I can never know how hard it must be to quit as I’ve never tried it…my heart goes out to those people who are addicted but are struggling to stop smoking. Addiction is indeed a slave master.

    Chloe xx

    • Thanks, Chloe – it is very hard to quit – and it seems some of us are not very good at learning from the experiences of others – only from our own (which is not very efficient from an evolutionary point of view!)

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