The Power of Words

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The Power of Words

 

The health warnings on cigarette packages,

Blaring with the vehemence of air-raid sirens,

Screaming from the printed surface

Of the pack, nearly empty,

Laying next to my lighter and an ashtray.

“Muerte prematura!”

“Detendra tú corazón!”

“Infarto cardiaco!”

Words heard a million times,

Meant to be potent incentives,

Along with lurid photographs

Depicting the horrific possibilities

Of my inevitable demise.

Whether in denial or rebellion,

Disbelief or in acquiescence

To the power of my addiction,

I light another cigarette,

Watching the smoke curl before my eyes,

Filling my lungs with the comfort of defeat,

As the vociferous warnings lie mute

Beneath the cellophane of a wrapper.

Warnings imbued with the divisive taint of blame,

Disapproval and confrontation

With an implied bias against smokers,

The threat overwhelms the message,

Awakening defiance,

Not compliance,

Closing my ears

To any whisper of caring or helpfulness.

How often have my own good intentions

Been nullified by the vehemence

Of my indignation and anger.

When perhaps more gentle,

Kind or supportive words

Could have been so much more effective.

How often we eschew the gentle approach

In favor of more powerful means,

In the mistaken belief

That he who has the biggest gun

Always wins.

 

The health warnings on cigarette packages,

Blaring with the vehemence of air-raid sirens,

Screaming from the printed surface

Of the pack, nearly empty,

Laying next to my lighter and an ashtray.

“Muerte prematura!”

“Detendra tú corazón!”

“Infarto cardiaco!”

Words heard a million times,

Meant to be potent incentives,

Along with lurid photographs

Depicting the horrific possibilities

Of my inevitable demise.

Whether in denial or rebellion,

Disbelief or in acquiescence

To the power of my addiction,

I light another cigarette,

Watching the smoke curl before my eyes,

Filling my lungs with the comfort of defeat,

As the vociferous warnings lie mute

Beneath the cellophane of a wrapper.

Warnings imbued with the divisive taint of blame,

Disapproval and confrontation

With an implied bias against smokers,

The threat overwhelms the message,

Awakening defiance,

Not compliance,

Closing my ears

To any whisper of caring or helpfulness.

How often have my own good intentions

Been nullified by the vehemence

Of my indignation and anger.

When perhaps more gentle,

Kind or supportive words

Could have been so much more effective.

How often we eschew the gentle approach

In favor of more powerful means,

In the mistaken belief

That he who has the biggest gun

Always wins.

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