English poetry

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Days of the slow roll

Days of the slow roll

It was the days of the slow roll,
Times when we dextrously dressed
Our hand-rolled cigarettes
With a dearth of fine-cut tobacco,
Teased in frugal strands from
A handsomely battered,
Always near empty,
2oz tobacco tin.
The thin rolls were patiently
Mastered in a slow statement
Of intense deliberation
In a fold of rice paper from
A yellow zig zag double deck,
Yellow before blue,
The blue burned too slow;
Held in two hands and
Sensuously massaged
Between thumb and fingers,
Licked with delicacy along
The gummed edge
When its shape and feel
Were judged just right,
Sealed tight in a flourish
Of thumbs, minutely inspected,
Stray strands recovered to
The ubiquitous tin,
Ends twisted gently and then,
Generously set alight.
We didn’t expect to offer makings
But to share a roll was a mark
Of decency and real respect.
I dedicate the art of the slow roll
To an artiste extraordinaire,
A singular exponent who set
The night alight with his singing,
Contemporary guitar renditions
With his thin rolled cigarette
Jutting jauntily from the corner
Of his manic grin,
Trailing tendrils of gentle
Smoke past squinted eyes;
Johnny managed to escape
With impunity the congenial
Disapprobation and ribald jests
Of ‘The Boys’, his teenage peers.
God rest you, Johnny Tuhoe.



Poem Days of the slow roll - Ivan Donn Carswell