Gasoline in Small Doses

Part of him still wants a change counter
the kind,
that clip on the belt

Of a fat man in a yellowed white shirt
who smiled at your dad

Fetched him a couple packs of smokes
before anyone was ashamed of them.
He wouldn’t use it,
no damn use for it at all,
it would just sit in a goddamn drawer until he found it
years later
while cleaning out a file cabinet
or a nightstand
and he’d turn it over for a moment

His hands
remembering the smell of gasoline and aftershave
and wondering why the first time a match touched

His father’s cigarette it

Smelled so sweet
while every other pull on that goddamn cancer stick

Smelled the way grey tastes
and he knew
holding that change counter,
that he should just take the quarters out of the damn thing

throw it away
but he wouldn’t,
wouldn’t really even think too hard about it,
it would go right back in that damn drawer
where it would sit for years

it would move with him from home to house
probably in a box labeled “Junk Drawer”
that his kids would find
maybe thirty or forty or fifty years later
chuckle at how “Dad liked stuff like this”
and they wouldn’t know the smell of

Gasoline and aftershave

The way those cigarettes smelled sweet and grey
and maybe

They would even forget to take out the quarters,


Chucking it into a box.
Part of him knows

all this is true

and wants one anyway.

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1 Comment

  1. Michael Desmond

     /  August 23, 2014

    The song Cats in the Cradle has always been an emotional tale for me. Having grown up with a truck driving father who was always gone. And a grandfather of the same profession. What I feel is the strength to this is that while deeply personal it is quite relatable. Particularly the smell of a cigarette lit with a match. It evokes so many memories of my childhood. Having often wondered the same thing myself. As to how it went from smelling sweet and then so awful. Well done, sir.


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