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  You could have a big dipper   

Down to the Filter by Shannon Frost Greenstein

A spark

flint, gunslinger’s steel, a moment of

anticipation; fire

and I backslid today.

The paper singed, a red ember


tendrils of smoke wafting in the breeze,

ribbons winding up to Heaven.

(I don’t believe in Heaven.)

Cash crops burned

diaphragm expanding, death clock ticking

the swan song of bronchioles protesting

and I exhaled.


a shock; a jolt;

a lightning bolt to my limbic system;

and my lizard brain


(Now I believe in Heaven.)


always makes me want to smoke; makes me think of Lance.

Sense memories drowning me, I relive

like a Method

all the times I’ve smoked before.

My husband doesn’t like it.

It is understandable reticence, what with all his lymphoma

and everything.

But sometimes, the overwhelming need for

dopamine wins out,

and I am right back again where I started.

I try, every day, amidst

the parenting and the writing and the struggle

the mental illness and the work and the joy;

but I backslid today and I smoked that bitch

down to the filter.


Shannon Frost Greenstein (She/Her) is the author of “Pray for Us Sinners”, a fiction collection from Alien Buddha Press, and “More.”, a collection of poetry by Wild Pressed Books. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and a former Ph.D. candidate in Continental Philosophy. Follow her on Twitter at @ShannonFrostGre or

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