Thursday, July 27, 2006

cigarette poetry and other oddities (from Christine)

Our tagline here at highwayscribery promises “politics, poetry and prose,” but they do not appear in equal doses, for whatever reason.

Today we are going to reproduce a poem written by Charles Loomis entitled “My Cigarette.” So popular was it that the author had it copyrighted.

We run it today to mark the limited availability of the highway scribe's novel,
“The Sidewalk Smokers Club.”

What the scribe has done is publish a limited number of galley copies which will be sent out to a (naturally) limited number of folk. The idea is to get some reviews on this outstanding and original work of literary fiction. As it turns out, most media outlets like a four-month lead time for reviewing books so that they can assign them, schedule, and publish them to coincide with the book’s actual release.

the scribe learned that the hard way with “Vedette.”

Gushing reviews garnered, we’ll then resubmit to the publisher, erase the “Galley Copy Not For Resale” blazoned across the front, and have a launch party sometime soon, somewhere in Los Angeles to which all will be invited to come and hear the scribe read to
Omar Torrez’ guitar and then join us outside for a big old sidewalk smoke.

Meantime, if you want one of these handsome galley copies, e-mail the scribe by clicking the little envelope at the bottom right hand of this post, and we can work out something nice (and cheap) together.

Here’s the poem:

My Cigarette

My Cigarette, Can I forget
How Kate and I, in sunny
weather,
Sat in the shade the elm-tree
made,
And rolled the fragrant weed
together?
I, at her side, beatified
To hold and guide her fingers
willing:
She, rolling slow the paper’s
snow,
Putting my heart in with the
filling!

My cigarette! I see her yet,
The white smoke from her lips curling,
Her dreaming eyes, her soft
But clearest, dearest of them
all,
And oftenest that I know,
the old parlor there across
the hall,
And Gran’ma’s faltering little
call:
“Your mama aske for you”–
New England fifty years ago,
And I just turned two.

White shutters by the whiter
bed,
And a whitest face therein;
A strong man pacing still and dread,
And the tall clock ticking,
ticking slow
Where little boys must never
go –
but now they led me in.

Thin fingers, like as petals,
cling
Cold to a baby’s cheeks;
Big eyes so deep I cannot
see –
Till stars come up in them for
me
The shadow of a breath that
speaks;
“God keep my little boy!” And
then
Slow lids – and – Nothing.
And they bore me out again.

Loomis was born in Massachusetts (1859) where he demonstrated formidable intellectual ability and curiosity. He went to Harvard but quit, clearly one of those restless types who can’t bear the burden of institutional rules. He was living in Cincinnati when, in 1884, an offer from the “Los Angeles Times” piqued his interest. Accepting the position, Loomis got it into his head to make the journey west on foot. He achieved the trek to Los Angeles, although he almost lost his life in the snows of New Mexico. He almost met Geronimo at one point, lived in New Mexico, was good friends to Teddy Roosevelt, lived in Peru, served as head librarian of the Los Angeles Public Library and generally experienced a life worthy of recounting.

Here’s a
bio and other stuff.

2 comments:

Sonia said...

sounds good

the highway scribe said...

You are a busy poet. Will check "flubberworlds" in greater detail later. Thanks for stopping by.