Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Drew Poem #1

Show me your hospitality,
I will show you a Henry Clay.
Show me a well spent night ,
It was given through a burning light.
Show me a conversation of comrades,
I will offer emperors and serfs the same.
Show me a saintly lady,
She will proffer a bundle with the ring.

Monday, July 26, 2010

ATY Poem #1

1.
Curling smoke slowly swirls, obscures faces
hands saddled by gestures dance cigars through
air swollen thick with tobacco's phoenix.
Leather couches crouch in corners, fill with
thoughts woken only once these rites begin:
snip the cap, strike the match, toast edges, light
cigar, smoke until ash. Ideas bounce back
and forth, paced with puffs of pleasure. Ideas,
deformed by debate, tested and strengthened
through thick thunderheads of smoke, then tasted
in the pipes of everyman, the field where
friendship forms equals, where new ideas reign.
It's no wonder emperors and kings feared
smoking peasantries, they were right to then.

2.
America, built upon tobacco,
pulled itself up with proceeds from the plant,
with silky, twisting strands of smoke our own
soil supplied to us and serfs in Europe.
Debates flowed, influenced by the fluid
flux of smoke, sparkle of pull, and puffed clouds.
Disagreements between pipe-smoking friends
were but a blessing bought by tobacco.
But lately the practice is, at least here,
out of favor. Our oh so tolerant
new culture, behind their thin mask, doesn't fear
rationality, debate, rhetoric,
camaraderie, truth like they should. They
try to ban revolutionary hearts.

Evan Gunn Wilson's 15 Tobacco Rules

1. Give your last cigar away occasionally. It will make you feel better.


2. Do not light a cigar in the presence of a respected friend or acquaintance, unless you give him one. This does not apply to employees, fellow boarders or anyone with whom you come in daily contact.


3. Never refuse a light to any smoker. If you haven’t a match to give him, let him borrow some of your fire, even if it spoils your cigar.


4. Remember that smokers are equal when smoking.


5. Do keep a fresh pipe – if he is a pipe smoker – for your friend.


6. Do the nice thing once in a while. If you have more than one cigar and notice a man looking sadly out of the smoking car window, proffer him one of your smokes, with the understanding that there have been times when you were short on smokes and long on loneliness yourself.


7. Give your friend your best cigar. You’ll have lots of fine future smokes coming to you if you do.


8. Remember you can display more brotherly feeling in the way you proffer a cigar than in a world of nice words and small loans.


9. Remember that the hospitable smoker is one of nature’s choicest creations.


10. Never play a joke on a smoker. Don’t give the meanest of them a loaded cigar. It’s brutal, dangerous and a stupid thing to do.


11. Don’t be a cigar or cigarette “sponge”. It’s a low down habit. You can lose your self-respect and the respect of your friends more in this way than any other.


12. Don’t be a strutting, nose-tilting smoker. It’s tough.


13. Never smoke in the presence of ladies, unless you know it is not offensive. If you don’t know, ask them. If they object, don’t smoke. In spite of Kipling, any good woman is far finer of which any cigar has ever dreamed.


14. “Life is too short for poor food, poor company, poor clothes” and poor smokes.


15. Remember that silence and a good cigar are two of the finest things on earth. Even a hermit can be an angel under these circumstances, and a man of the world a man of the other world. Puff your smoke heavenward, and pitch your thoughts toward the clouds.

Post #1: Because There isn't Any

At least no great ones. The only one is Rudyard Kipling's "The Betrothed".

So Gunn and I got together and decided that for the rest of the year, starting in July, we would write a tobacco poem a month. We hoped we would get one good stanza. This quickly launched us into a discussion about how to write a poem, which needs tension, about relaxation. This then launched us into a philosophical discussion of relaxation, a discussion that, as it was starting to come back around to tobacco poetry, was overheard by Drew and Kelly, two cats who decided to take on the project as well. So... here we go!

+++

The Betrothed
Rudyard Kipling

"You must choose between me and your cigar."
--BREACH OF PROMISE CASE, CIRCA 1885.

Open the old cigar-box, get me a Cuba stout,
For things are running crossways, and Maggie and I are out.

We quarrelled about Havanas--we fought o'er a good cheroot,
And I knew she is exacting, and she says I am a brute.

Open the old cigar-box--let me consider a space;
In the soft blue veil of the vapour musing on Maggie's face.

Maggie is pretty to look at--Maggie's a loving lass,
But the prettiest cheeks must wrinkle, the truest of loves must pass.

There's peace in a Larranaga, there's calm in a Henry Clay;
But the best cigar in an hour is finished and thrown away--

Thrown away for another as perfect and ripe and brown--
But I could not throw away Maggie for fear o' the talk o' the town!

Maggie, my wife at fifty--grey and dour and old--
With never another Maggie to purchase for love or gold!

And the light of Days that have Been the dark of the Days that Are,
And Love's torch stinking and stale, like the butt of a dead cigar--

The butt of a dead cigar you are bound to keep in your pocket--
With never a new one to light tho' it's charred and black to the socket!

Open the old cigar-box--let me consider a while.
Here is a mild Manila--there is a wifely smile.

Which is the better portion--bondage bought with a ring,
Or a harem of dusky beauties, fifty tied in a string?

Counsellors cunning and silent--comforters true and tried,
And never a one of the fifty to sneer at a rival bride?

Thought in the early morning, solace in time of woes,
Peace in the hush of the twilight, balm ere my eyelids close,

This will the fifty give me, asking nought in return,
With only a Suttee's passion--to do their duty and burn.

This will the fifty give me. When they are spent and dead,
Five times other fifties shall be my servants instead.

The furrows of far-off Java, the isles of the Spanish Main,
When they hear my harem is empty will send me my brides again.

I will take no heed to their raiment, nor food for their mouths withal,
So long as the gulls are nesting, so long as the showers fall.

I will scent 'em with best vanilla, with tea will I temper their hides,
And the Moor and the Mormon shall envy who read of the tale of my brides.

For Maggie has written a letter to give me my choice between
The wee little whimpering Love and the great god Nick o' Teen.

And I have been servant of Love for barely a twelvemonth clear,
But I have been Priest of Cabanas a matter of seven year;

And the gloom of my bachelor days is flecked with the cheery light
Of stumps that I burned to Friendship and Pleasure and Work and Fight.

And I turn my eyes to the future that Maggie and I must prove,
But the only light on the marshes is the Will-o'-the-Wisp of Love.

Will it see me safe through my journey or leave me bogged in the mire?
Since a puff of tobacco can cloud it, shall I follow the fitful fire?

Open the old cigar-box--let me consider anew--
Old friends, and who is Maggie that I should abandon you?

A million surplus Maggies are willing to bear the yoke;
And a woman is only a woman, but a good Cigar is a Smoke.

Light me another Cuba--I hold to my first-sworn vows.
If Maggie will have no rival, I'll have no Maggie for Spouse!