Like a good cigar, this poetry collection opens up as one reads it, offering subtler insights and keener rhythms the deeper one goes.
The title of Adams’ extended paean to cigars is telling: Spanish cedar is the traditional choice for building humidors, the cases in which cigars are preserved. Of course, his book has a similar goal: he hopes—quite uniquely—to save and preserve the cigar experience for poetry lovers. His collection falls into three movements. The first is a paradise for aficionados. Described as “Poems about Specific Cigars,” its contents describe individual “sticks.” “He Saunters In,” for example, features a cameo by the Serie V Liga Especial, whose “dark and varied taste makes a strong pause, / a richly flavored stop while I wander, visit by visit, / through the selections available.” And yet these poems are something more than cigar reviews; rather, each uses the smoke as a jumping-off point for reflections on literature, music, leisure, and a bevy of other topics. A second section of verse on cigars “In General” offers broader insights on the smoking experience—and often on how that experience shapes thought: “A cigar in hand modulates fuel to the mind, / as a carburetor, / by misting considerations of cured and rolled tobacco leaf’s / flow, / texture, / flavor, / and consistency.” Throughout, one senses the author’s humble wonder at the ways that smoke stimulates thought, which stimulates writing. Truly, for Adams, the cigar is not merely the thing itself; it’s an indispensable part of the creative process. His book’s third section features more extended creative flights: poems written “While Appreciating a Cigar.” Among the best is “Rain Falls,” a reverie on love that culminates with the memorable line, “We are a joke, / a twist of circumstances and language, / but we don’t care.” Obviously, these poems will yield more complex joys for those who enjoy a tightly rolled Macanudo Estate Reserve. But there’s plenty here for the rest of us, too.
Sumptuous delights for smokers and nonsmokers alike.