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Ricki Mandeville


Smoke From A Decent Cigar



I crave a whiff of it,

a glimpse of its swirling columns

that marble a room with false dusk,

soften its corners

through pungent haze.


It beckons me with narrow hands

and hangs initials in the air—O’s and L’s and languid S’s

that rise and sway in mystic fonts. 

Perhaps some childhood memory awakes:

great banks of smoke that roll like fog

from a study where men puff Carillos

and speak of stocks and sports,

deep voices braided into a soothing chant,

my eyes on fire as I spy on them

from the bottom stair.


Each time I hang your jacket

behind my door and a ghost of smoke

caught in its sleeve slips past my face—

faint trace of how you spent the hour before—


I feel a naked ache across my nape,

conjure a nicotine-laced kiss placed there:

Grandfather’s lips, their slight tobacco taint,

his coat of worsted wool, a fine cigar

tucked in the pocket of his shirt,

his hands that smelled of pine tar soap,

ruffling my hair.




Ricki Mandeville has edited more than 15 volumes of poetry and is a co-founder of Moon Tide Press. Recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Raintown Review, She Writes, The Adroit Journal, The Prairie Journal and Spot Lit. She is the author of A Thin Strand of Lights (Moon Tide Press, 2006) and a chapbook, Beneath My Bed (FarStarFire Press, 2000). She lives, works and writes poetry near the ocean in Huntington Beach, California.

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