I cough too much. When I was 21,
I had bronchitis in a rugged place.
The meds were harsh – before the course had run,
they diagnosed pneumonia in my case.
And ever since, each cold becomes complex.
The coughing lingers on for several weeks.
I brace my ribs, my pelvic floor, my neck,
avoiding rips and urinary leaks.

I guess there’s no avoiding consequence
from repetitious body use – my age
has earned its calluses, and so I sense
this hernia is just another wage
I pay for coughing – Sure the tear’s no joke,
but I’ll admit I’m stupid: I still smoke.

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