Hearing the bark of my sergeant’s orders
was music to my rifleman’s ears
after trudging through rocky brambles
in mosquito-ridden underbrush.
I took a deep drag from the tips of my toes.
Cigarettes came with our K-rations,
helping me to become a nicotine drug addict—
a smoke with every cup of coffee, shot of scotch,
or after every sexual encounter.
Cigarettes and booze: Always available at the PX
at deeply discounted prices.
It wasn’t until a few years later—
while working at N.Y. U. on a first large-scale study
on the correlation between smoking and cancer
that I followed the lead of the chain-smoking
director of the project, who quit smoking cold-turkey
the day the malarkey about smoking was revealed.