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Nicotine Riddles

by



She swaggers across the room, beautiful as Bob Dylan’s voice—
not pleasing to the senses, but searing to the soul.
She knows how to move in second-hand denim.

Her hair descends in scarlet cascades, tracing
the outline of the anime sketched on her t-shirt, a character
with each eyeball curled into the shape of a question mark.

She invites you to dwell on her mysteries, the ones
she can keep you from solving:  even now she directs your gaze
to the frames of rimless shades—lenses both black and blank,

empty screens designed to shield you from the movies of her mind,
lurid documentaries on the years she had spent in hell
without once removing her leather jacket.

You watch her sauntering past stone-faced scene-makers,
the thin curve of her lips stopping just short of a smile.
She looks you over with unseen eyes,

regarding you, perhaps, as you had been regarding her:
the only intriguing piece of art on display in this insipid show-room,
this gallery of absurd postures and stunted poses—

this gauntlet of prom queens and party animals.
She continues her approach across the carpeted floor, brandishing
an unlit cigarette in a flourish of pale fingers and painted nails.

Her voice is a whisper, searching for the sound of a name.
She offers nicotine riddles in place of conversation, words
designed to hide their implications in the insinuations of smoke,

shades of meaning illuminated only by fire:
the inflections of light as you strike the match head
and she leans into your flame.

And then you burn.

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About Craig Fishbane


Craig Fishbane is the author of "On the Proper Role of Desire" (Big Table Publishing). His work has also appeared in the New York Quarterly, Bartleby Snopes, Drunken Boat, Opium, Night Train and The Nervous Breakdown, as well as the Flash Fiction Funny anthology.

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