These days
I only read works
from poets
I’m intimate with
not the cigarette
afterwards kind
but more
in a crowded
room kind
when you read
that piece
about smoking
a cigarette
lips pursed
around a narrow
filter inhaling
your body
absorbing poison

Eyes shift
to a copy of
Gideon’s Bible
on the nightstand
next to a stained
panel wall

thoughts drifting
to another place
like a crowded
room with
adoring fans

and snapping
and you forget
to tap the ash
so it tumbles
onto white linen
burning small holes

I push past
the audience
with heart racing
the last copy
ask you
to sign your name
and place it

on my nightstand
next to an ashtray
I took from
an old motel
I stopped into
one night
after working
late somewhere
near Bayonne
and open
the book
to that poem
the fragrance
from your fingers
where you signed
your name
under the title
on a clear
white page
next to a graphic
of a long ash
across a bible
on a nightstand
still burning


Image by Author

Paul Rabinowitz

Paul Rabinowitz is an author, photographer and founder of ARTS By The People, a nonprofit arts organization based in New Jersey. Paul’s photography, short fiction and poetry have appeared in many magazines and journals including Nailed, Long Exposure Magazine, Linden Avenue Literary Journal, Pif Magazine, The Metaworker, Burningword and others. Paul is the author of Limited Light, a book of prose and portrait photography, and a novella, The Clay Urn, (Main Street Rag, 2020). Paul is currently at work on a novel Confluence, and Grand Street, Revisited a book of prose poems. His short works have been the inspiration for numerous poetry and dance films. Paul has produced many mixed media performances and poetry animation films that have appeared on stages and in theaters in New York City, New Jersey, Tel Aviv and Paris. Paul is a written word performer and the founder of “The Platform,” a monthly literary series in New Jersey, and Platform Review, a journal of voices and visual art from around the world.