Power

May 1, 2002
Volume 19, Issue 5

Ask me about power and I'll tell you cigar smoke, the way it darkens like a thunderhead

Ask me about power
and I'll tell you cigar smoke,
the way it darkens like a thunderhead

or curls thin as an assassin's wire.
I'll tell you how smoke
sticks to your flesh

for the length of a career,
and I'll tell you about the day
the Chairman of Psychiatry

gathered us in a conference room,
pulled a Havana from his pocket,
chewed the end, and blew

each long drag in the patient's face
shouting, "Are you crazy?"
as if the man could remove an electrode

planted in his brain by the FBI.
And when the patient finally cried,
the Chairman turned

to his audience of students and residents,
took the cigar from his mouth,
and examined it like a surgical instrument,

slime at one end, the tip burning red.
He smiled at the cigar, chomped down,
took another suck.