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He draws hard. Black backie burns bright in its bowl. Blue plumes billow, tumble to cumulus, disperse and fade as fragrant fog. A veil of incense lingers. His odour signature – sweet briar. But his furnace calls for frequent fettling. He tamps down the fiery coals with his first finger, its flesh is a charcoal callus. Once in a while a major service is needed. He separates bowl and stem then shakes the latter to splat out the spittle and the condensate of brown brew. Next, the hearth to be tended. Clearing the grate requires stabbing with the spike to break clinker prise out the cinder. Now ready for re-assembly and re-fuelling with Finest Virginia. Skilful packing prepares the pyre. The charge is set. Time for ignition. A Swan Vestas flare is placed at the muzzle. He draws hard dragging the flame down into the bed of backie. The furnace flares, sparks fly, ashes spew. Krakatoa erupts. Vigorous venting, then the inferno settles to supply sweet smoke.

Copyright © | Year Posted 2021

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