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Poem by Jonathan: Old Smokey

Carrie and I have been looking for apartments since getting back to Denver. It’s a long story, so I’ll keep it short.

We moved into an apartment we thought we would love.

Day 2 of living in the apartment, we realized that a very heavy cigarette smoke smell was blowing through the vents.

After investigation, we discovered the smoke was coming in through the floor of the apartment below us, right into the HVAC air intake, which meant the smoke was blowing right into the system that was heating the apartment.

The complex did what they could (cleaning out ducts, attempting to seal the space), but the smoke was still coming throughout our apartment ducting.

They were good about it and let us out of our lease.

So, this Saturday, we’re re-moving.

We’ll be moving from our ‘old’ new apartment to our ‘new’ new apartment.

In response to this event, I wrote a poem. I hope you enjoy it.

Old Smokey
by Jonathan Kraft

I once knew the man who lived downstairs
He smoked two packs a day
His cigarette smoke slithered through the floor
Seeping into my place in every way

My shirts and my pants all smelled of the stench
So I blocked all the vents with paper news
It somewhat helped, but the smell still seeped
Into my kitchen and even my shoes

Nicely, I asked if he would puff a bit less
I thought it reasonable from this guy
He said “Quite honestly, I don’t jest…
I can not quit, but I’ll definitely try.”

He went on to tell me how he’d begun
Smoking quite rarely, just a daily one
But at some point this habit became more than fun
And he’d become addicted to the smoking gun

He said, “I imagine I’d be quite rich,
If I had just put the away the money
Six dollars per day just puffed away
Never figured how much, but it wouldn’t be funny.”

“I just don’t have the fortitude to stop
I’ve tried and I’ve tried and I’ve tried again.
But I don’t have the strength that it takes, inside
I just can’t stick to my decision.”

I told him I thought he did have the strength
If he truly wanted to quit
I told him that he was fibbing himself.
If he truly wanted, he could do it.

“I suppose you’re right” said the man with a grin
But then I found his grin quite a fright
His remaining teeth were yellowed with tar
The other teeth were gone out of sight.

I thanked the man giving it a try
Though I knew his best would be to smoke
Giving things up is about deciding
Trying says your words are prob’ly a joke.

I do think he gave it some kind of effort
We spoke on occasion in passing outside
But from that day on, It seemed he felt shame
He always seemed to want to hide.

I no longer know the man who downstairs
You see he is dead, and he has gone.
His smoke smell filled up his brain and his lungs
I discovered this, one morning on the lawn

One early morning, lights and sirens flared
I looked out to see the commotion
People were moving back and forth from his place
Coming and going like waves on the ocean.

Eventually I saw them bring the man out
The one who lived downstairs
I went outside for I wanted to see him
And let him know he was in my prayers.

I reached out my hand as he went by
And told him I hoped he’d be okay
He said “I don’t think I’m coming back.
This is probably my very last day.”

“I have only one regret in my whole life.”
The man from downstairs said with a groan
“I guess I’ve always known that cigarettes equal death.
I highly recommend everyone leave them alone.”

2 thoughts on “Poem by Jonathan: Old Smokey

  1. Marty

    I watched my wonderful step-father, I’d had since I was 12, die from
    smoking. His lungs would just slowly fill up with liquid & he could not
    breathe. The 1st time I was there & able to rush him in early morning
    traffic to the Houston Medical Center. Dr. told me if I’d been even
    5 minutes more, they could not have saved him. Once the fluid encircles
    the lungs you can no longer breathe. He only lived 3 more months because my mom had heart surgery & the ambulance was too late. He died
    in my mom’s arms. What a loss. What a wonderful man & he had not even
    reached retirement. Then I watched 2 other dear, close friends die
    a slow, horrid death from smoking. They were highly professional people.
    As they talked, blood would appear on the corners of their lips. This
    went on for over a year. There would be blood on their pillows when
    they would awaken from their sleep. I give these details to try to get people to realize what they are facing if they smoke. What I don’t understand is why we force people to wear seatbelts, buy health insurance, etc. etc. & yet we allow cigerettes to be sold & advertised?

  2. Lisa

    This is a fabulous poem, kind of feels like the meter for “Twas the Night Before Christmas” but certainly a lesson to be learned here. Thanks, Marty, for sharing too — I totally agree with you!

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