The Last Cigarette On Earth

A Book of Poems



By: Benjamin Alire Sáenz
A gay Latino’s intimate journey through addiction, human desire and broken love. From the author of Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club winner of the Pen/Faulkner and Lambda Awards for Fiction (2013).
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Description

A major Latino writer's intimate but healing journey through addiction, human desire and broken love.

From "He Leaves a Message in the Middle of the Night"
He loved beer
and crack. He loved heroin, ecstasy, the sad music
of the bars. He said he loved you too. You are
thinking of the night you met him. Late October
night, the breeze as soft as his black eyes. He was
so hungry for trouble. You were so hungry
for anything that resembled love. Your finger
tracing the tattoos on his chest, you dreamed
of living in the prison of his arms. But you refused
to live in the prison of his deadly nights. You
can't survive without the morning
light. You repeat this again and again:
He's a man, not an illness. Tattoos and prison.
Novels and poems. A bird can love a fish but they can't
live in your apartment. He called again last night
and left a message that was meant to wound.
He said: I want to know what you meant when
you said I love you. You said: I love you. I meant I love you.
He said: I want to know what you meant when
you said goodbye. You said: Goodbye. I meant goodbye.

You whispered his name in the dark.

Benjamin Alire Sáenz in 2013 won the Pen/Faulkner Award and the Lambda Award for his book Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club. His young adult novel Dante and Aristotle in Paradise was a 2013 Printz Honoree. He lives in El Paso, Texas.

Ben reads "He, You, I"

Awards and Accomodations

2018 Paterson Poetry Prize Finalist

4 reviews for The Last Cigarette On Earth

  1. Harvard Review Online
    Sáenz’s lines are at their best when they expose intimacies in unexpected places. … The Last Cigarette On Earth invites the reader to occupy spaces of contradiction, falling between love and hate, tenderness and violence, pain and pleasure.

  2. Eileen Myles, poet and novelist
    Benjamin Alire Saenz’s poems are ballads. They’re stories but they also have a whiff of the life sailing by from the car just passing with the radio on. It’s music in stores selling stuff and suddenly it’s inside your heart too painful to ignore. I love the honesty of this work and the sharp sweet reminder that we pick up art, our own and other people’s (including their tattoos) same way birds hold onto something inside and out to fly forward. His tunes are wild and brave.

  3. New York Journal of Books
    The Last Cigarette on Earth has a stark verite style as Benjamin Alire Sáenz looks back on his own haunting past and reflects on his interior world now, sometimes revealing emotional pain and solitude, resolved that he may never find it. —Lew J. Whittington

  4. Midwest Book Review
    An inherently fascinating, thoughtful and thought-provoking read from beginning to end, The Last Cigarette on Earth is unreservedly recommended, especially for academic library Latino Poetry & Prose collections.

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