If I Don’t Quit

If I don’t force myself to stop…
I saw future was foretold in
a gas station by the interstate
where the four and sixteen wheelers
convene
Inside
where I saw a man whose
tires were deflated by life
who was comparing prices
on packets of cigarettes
like they were his next
set of wheels
where five bucks buys all
he could afford
with the soda he got
from the fountain
might just put him over.
And he speaks with the
cashier with tattoos
fashioned from military service
looking homemade so all
the lines run together,
sayin’ he doesn’t smoke
sayin’ he wasn’t sure which
ones were lined with
fiberglass to give them their
minty unfresh taste.
If I don’t quit
that’ll be me.
And the way you talk to me
if I don’t quit
it’ll lead to things more unhealthy
than even inhaling nicotine and fiberglass
I am ill-prepared
but well-conditioned.
I am broken but mending
and I’ve since decided that
I don’t like needy anymore,
Don’t need to feel that vacuum
sucking me into your piles upon
piles of baggage
and I can see it now from a mile away
like a lighthouse siren leading
this humble little ship through
the dark waters and into the rocks
where I’ll sink then temporarily drown,
weighted down by your personal luggage
I am just not equipped to be your porter
the handler of your baggage.
Listen.
If I don’t quit now,
My guard will be broken, my heart
will be exposed and will hang heavy,
more crooked than it already exists.
And you will take me down into
a place I remember better
than the back of my hand
or the words of poets far greater
than I.
I can’t save you and I
don’t want to try.
As much as I want to help
I think I need to quit
while I’m ahead because
five dollars will soon be all
I have to spare,
I’ll be bartering for a reasonable price
for my heart to be this burdened,
with a tip you gave to your baggage handler
and I can tell you…
This is a road I’ve been on,
a counter I’ve stood at and I’m
just waiting for the cashier to ring me up
as I tell myself over and again
When will I learn to quit?

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