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The day I went cold turkey on smoking

Updated: May 17, 2023

By Gretchen Filart



  • My daughter quipped, You have been saying that since last year.


  • Capitalism enslaved me while washing its hands off with cigarette packs bearing pus-filled tumors, skinned throats & fleshy wounds.


  • My temple throbbed from chain-smoking four cigarettes with lager.


  • Like all mornings, a cold splash of water on the face before I muttered ugly panda eyes. Eyelids shut in rapture as brewed coffee & nicotine lorded over the sinews.


  • For each smoke break, a toothbrush, mouthwash & citrus spray to keep my nose from complaining.


  • My tongue searched for places to touch, but worried that few men won’t whine, I can taste the cigarette against the mint.


  • For every sore, I thought of writing a last will.


  • I have tended to chemo patients & laid flowers on their coffins. Sometimes I imagined my palms, bone-white, receiving the garlands.


  • Death has not frightened me as much as my kid not knowing she was loved the most.


  • Seventeen years ago, our Anatomy professor came to class, shaky hands beaded with sweat. I’m sorry, I’m late, he said. My nephew accidentally ingested cyanide while cleaning his rings. I was his attending doctor. I’ve seen this happen before. But it’s not the same when it’s someone you know.


  • I dreamed of him, only it was my daughter in a white coat, holding the mic. Eyes swollen, 10-year-old voice a fissure in the hollow halls. I’m sorry, I’m late. My mom ingested cyanide for 23 years. I was her attending doctor. I’ve seen this happen before. But it’s not the same when it’s her in the casket, knowing she loved suicide more than me.


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Gretchen resides in the chaotic comforts of the Philippines, where she writes poems and creative nonfiction about motherhood, love, grief, nature, and intersectionalities. A finalist in phoebe’s 2023 Spring Poetry Contest and second place in Navigator’s Around the World in 80 Pages 2017 Travel Writing Competition, her work appears in Rappler, Door Is A Jar, phoebe, Maudlin House, and elsewhere. Say hi via her website,ourworldinwords.com, or Twitter and Instagram @gretchenfilart.


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2 Comments


This is a stunning write!

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Gretchen Filart
Gretchen Filart
Aug 03, 2023
Replying to

I'm heartened. Thank you so much for reading, @chandra.persaud01!

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