poem for litchfield beach and my grandfather’s smoking habit

 

the angels become porpoises in litchfield, when my grandfather

kills his third cigarillo of the morning in the slaughterhouse

 

of an ashtray and raises his tawny hand out towards the ocean.

look at the porpoises, he says, look at how they jump! but i cannot

 

see these angels. no, my eyes never adjust to the sunlight fractals

of high september, and the only creatures that i have seen are not celestial

 

bodies, but racoons fighting like demons in the dumpster far below our 3rd

floor balcony late at night—when the moon hangs in the darkness

 

like the glowing end of another gas station cigar,

burning the world alive from the inside out as my grandfather

 

holds it between his lips. he promised to quit smoking

several christmases ago, and i’m starting to hate sitting on the porch

 

with him breathing in pure carnage like the fall of Pompeii in a 4-star resort—

but i love him, so i am quiet for now. the angels i cannot see rise higher, he says

 

—stubby noses raised towards a heaven that they cannot reach until

they learn how to fly. and we sit here in the september sun—waiting.

 

look at the porpoises! he says with childlike joy, but i see only the halos

of the angels just passed, dissipating quickly in the waters. a panoply

 

of tender light, polluted only by a single line of smoke rising into the

heavens, into a new land, where even the angels cannot go.