ablaze addiction air alarm andiron aroma arson asbestos ash ashtray backdraft backfire bake ban band barbacue bellows billow blacken blaze blend bloom blow blowtorch bomb bonfire bong bouquet brand breathe brimstone bud bunsen-burner burn butt campfire cancer candle candlestick canister cannabis carbon carbon-monoxide carburetor carcinogen carton "catch fire" cauldron ceasefire chainsmoker chalice char charcoal chimney "chipper" choke cigar cigarette cigarillo cinder "coffin nail" coal combust conflagrate consume convection contain cook Corona cough crack craving cremate crematorium Cuban cure cutter dank dependence detector detonator diesel ditchweed dog-iron dopamine drill drag dragon draw dynamite ember emission engine enkindle emphysema escape evacuation exhale exhaust exit explosive extinguish fag fatwood feed fiery filtered fire firebug firecracker firedog firefighter fireplace fireproof firetrap firetruck firework five-alarm flame flammable flare flashover flickering forge freebase fuel "full flavor" fume fumigate furnace fuse ganja gasoline gasp grate grenade grill gun gust habit hash Havana haze HAZMAT headshop heat hearth hell hellfire hellhole hemp herb hickory hit holder holding holocaust hookah hose hot huffing humidor hydrant ignite incense incendiary incinerate inferno inflammable inhale iron joint kiln kindle kindling kings ladder lamp lantern lava Lent light lighter lightning locoweed log lox lung mantel marijuana match matchbook matchbox menthol nicotine oil-lamp opium oven pack parch parejo patch panatela paper "peace pipe" perfecto phlogiston pipe plume pot powder presidente puff pump punk "put out" pyre pyromania pyrotechnic quit reefer retardant ring roach roast roll "roll your own" screen scorch sear second-hand shade-grown signal singe sizzle skywriting slag slim smelt smolder smoke "smoke-filled rooms" "smokes" smokescreen "smoking a cloud" "smoking gun" smother smudge "social smoker" spark spiff spit spread stain steam stifle stogie stove strike subdue suffocate sulfur squib tabacco tallow "take a hit" taper tar tinder tinderbox toast tobacco toke torch torpedo "touch off" trigger unfiltered "ultra lights" urge vapor vat vent ventless ventilation volcano votive wax weed withdrawal wheeze wick wildfire wind wrapper yellowed yulelog Zippo 100s 420


Poetry (any form or style) and Micro or Flash Fictions wanted for an anthology on SMOKE. Not just the black clouds rising from the five-alarm fire next door, or the billowing plumes of smoke warning us of a forest fire, or the emissions from factory smoke stacks, apartment house incinerators, and crematoriums, smoke rings rise from cigarettes, smoke pours out of headshops, pipe shops & cigar stores--see that purple haze rising over the fields of poppies and marijuana we just planted--we've used it to communicate via smoke signals and skywriting, to cover our tracks and disappear with and without mirrors, combat the enemy on and off the battlefield, kill bugs, flavor food, cure illness, declare peace treaties, and fragrance our homes. Got the idea? Release it onto the page.

Guidelines: Submit up to three poems/micro fictions or two flash fictions at a time with a fascinating bio of 35 words or less, not just limited to publication credits, copy/pasted in the body of an e-mail (no attachments, please) to roxy533 at yahoo dot com & . We will also entertain up to six one-liners or 2 short stand up routines at time. Previously published work is OK as long as authors have retained the copyright, which will be returned to them after publication. Simultaneous submissions are encouraged. If your work is accepted elsewhere, and you still have obtained rights to republish, just let us know where and we'll be happy to acknowledge the other publication.

If you do not receive a response from us within a month of your submission considered it rejected and feel free to submit again. Due to the volume of submissions we cannot respond to each and every individual submission. Selection for the on-line edition are made on a ongoing basis as we receive your submissions. However, final selections for the print edition will made after the October 31st deadline. (In otherwords not everything that made the cut for the online edition will appear in print.) Please do not query. When in doubt, send the submission to roxy533 at yahoo dot com &

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

3AM & Three Hours to Burn a Body

Delhi, India

We are coming back to the hotel, full of curries our friends’ servants made. The camber of the moon appears, disappears—a white cutout in the smog. We stop at a streetlight. Out of the smoky night come the children—the brown iris of their eyes like saucers. They have emerged from their roadside tents to knock on the windows of the ambassador car. Our driver, Sharma, says, “So poor … so many so poor,” and the children knock harder and put their hands to their mouths, miming hunger. I am afraid they may break the glass. My friend says she wishes she had a lollipop. Sharma says “Work is worship.” The light turns green, the weak smiles of the children fall, and we leave them behind—ghosts of fog, still miming their hunger. Sharma looks in his rearview mirror asks, “What is it that we can do, Ma’m? What can we do?”

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Three Hours to Burn a Body
Varanasi, India

We have come to watch the bodies burn,
our guide shoos away beggars and children,
selling shells of light and orange marigolds—

An offering for Mother Ganga. The murky river
sways with candles, a thousand dawn-lit stars.
The sky’s stars hidden by a canvas of clouds.

Untouchables travel barefoot down sandy stairs,
carrying another gold-clad body on their shoulders.
They chant, and the families follow their dead.

I watch them tend the “eternal flame,” watch
the living to avoid the dead. The guide says,
“This one almost finished,” points to a pyre.

A flame twists from the ghost of an eye.
“Three hours,” he says, “to burn a body.”
Legs hot from flame, ash rains onto my hair.

“Good luck,” he points to the ash, “Very good luck,
indeed…Come,” he leads us to a concrete building.
A creased, toothless woman holds out her hand.

A wrinkled breast sags from the sari. She tucks it back
without apology. The guide tells us, “She needs money
for her pyre. Good karma for you.” We hand her 500 rupees,

She hides it in her sari, lies back onto the straw mat,
the cold concrete floor. The boatman waits. We row
down the river. Dawn prayers echo from a mosque.

A dying cow moans from the river’s bank.
White branches of smoke rise from each black smudge
in the sand, disappear into the white horizon.

Children run above, along the rooftops.
Fires below create hot wind, lifting
colorful kites and children’s laughter to flight.

by Suzanne Roberts

Suzanne Roberts is the author of Shameless, Nothing to You, and Plotting Temporality (forthcoming from Red Hen Press). She teaches at Lake Tahoe Community College in California. Ms. Roberts has never smoked a cigarette, but she has been in enough smoky cities to make up for it.

Visit Suzanne Robert's website

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