• The smoke from that pungent cigar, a scent most lethal,
    floats up above the decanter of hard liquor, hazing the already dim light.
    It joins the rest of the effluent substances in the air,
    hovering over us all like some dark specter.
    It reminds me of the curling smoke from an antique oil lamp,
    rubbed once or twice too hard,
    before the hackneyed, pinstriped djinn appears.
    I get three wishes now, you say?
    Lucky me.
    I wish for an escape route,
    a doorway out of this smoke-filled room,
    to be far away from everyone in it.
    Turns out clicking my heels don’t work.
    So give me a free pass out of this rabbit hole, back to sanity and certainty.
    A magic carpet ride to get me the hell outta here.
    You can keep the other two.
    Consider it a gift, a favor for a favor. It is how this world works.
    Use them for something nice for yourself, Sweetcheeks.
    Some new harem girl to be your
    prize jewel in your
    ostentatious crown of villainy and deceit.
    You do wear it so well. It certainly belongs on you.
    Makes you look like a king in a sand castle.
    But, I don’t worry, it will all come atumblin’ down.
    You can keep your gold,
    your gaudy jewels, your red paste slippers and your slurred promises
    whispered and left broken with the bottles
    at the end of the night.
    Leave me to fade away in the morning’s light,
    like a spirit in the smoke,
    like a cat’s smile.