Tony Smoking Backwards

<em>A Richard Billingham entry for the Turner Prize is the video </em>Tony Smoking Backwards<em>. To

I can't be fagged any more. My ashen

face is in this saucer, stubbling

the china, my packet's daily ration

exhausted. The fumes are troubling.

Here are the final embers, glowing

like a shortish fuse. They try to filter

the bad news. Now the smoke is flowing

out of my lungs, out of kilter

with my breath. It is running ragged

rings round my head: whenever I puff,

it sucks. It's soothing, since I'm haggard

extracting cancers. This stuff

kills? No? There's a war in my chest,

a hint of cough, bringing spit up.

The first drag of the dawn: it's best

to hawk. Time that I lit up.

This article first appeared in the 19 November 2001 issue of the New Statesman, And now the trouble really begins