Poetry 2
Our Gift Shop
The Art of Brent Spink
A Good Cause: Harvest of Joy
Talking to Daiva Markelis
Talking to Sherry Ackerman
Kalamazoo and Beyond
Kalamazoo 2
NonFiction 2
Fiction 2
Poetry 2
The Blue Note
Cigar Lounge
Zinta Reviews
Submission Guidelines
Links and Resources
Marketing, Advertising and Donations
The Editors

Dead Mute Swan, oil painting by Brent Spink

Casey Holman




we can’t bury her until next week,

when the cold snap ends and you thaw

and open yourself to the men with shovels

who will dig six feet into you

to plant her with the other women

who came before me.


there in the frosted yard

in the footprint of the pickle cannery

just south from the scars and wrinkles

of train-tracks crossing your face,

older than iron and stone.


my losses have all been yours too,

our mothers dying slowly, consumed from inside,

fathers given up and into rest

and brothers found twisted on your shoulders.


you inter them somberly, and forget our intrusion

as you forgot every soul and deadly winter

and every prayer whispered into your deaf earth.



Casey Holman is a college student waiting to turn twenty. Her work has recently appeared or is upcoming in Verdad, MediaVirus, Carcinogenic Poetry, and Cannoli Pie, among others.

Low Winter Light, oil painting by Brent Spink

Tobi Cogswell



Private Story


She drives by the International Terminal

on her bad days, then goes to the Swingline

Bar, staples herself into a seat and drinks

until she feels better. Salt on the rims

to taste what her eyes can no longer release.


A 4pm cab before the after-workers come.

She only drinks with the hard-cores

and Jonas, the day guy who’s quiet

and does not judge. She cannot bear

the smiles and rising levels of twilight



A lonely woman’s apartment furnished

with hopes and fabrics from 1982,

she melts onto the kitchenette,

plays a music box before grabbing

some cheese and old bread,


and sits silently while the bread soaks up

her 80-proof weaknesses. When her vision

comes back without waver, she watches

the news. But this is just today. Tomorrow’s

a second guess, one moment at a time.




Tobi Cogswell is a two-time Pushcart nominee.  Publication credits include Illya’s Honey, Rhino, RE:AL, Decanto (UK), Red River Review, Turbulence (UK), Spilt Milk (UK), Inkspill (UK) and Frostwriting (Sweden) among others, and are forthcoming in Iodine Poetry Journal, Hawai’i Pacific Review, Pinyon Journal, Slipstream and Chiron Review. She has three chapbooks and her full-length poetry collection “Poste Restante” is available from Bellowing Ark Press.  She is the co-editor of San Pedro River Review.

Harbor, oil painting by Brent Spink

Ralph Pennel


On Looking at a Photo of Two Soldiers on the Wall in Costello’s Bar, Saint Paul



Both men are smiling.  One man is leaning on the jeep’s bumper,

rifle rooted to the ground, hand holding ever so loosely.


The other man stands beside him, holding before him the rising sun

against snow-white cloth.


And you are staring at them, too, head turned over your shoulder,

describing to me what cannot be seen:


the man they must have killed for his flag

still lying just out of view of the road where they found him sleeping,


as if he had forgotten about the war or simply ceased to care,

the sun overhead against a cloudless sky the last thing he saw before drifting off.


Your back still turned to me, you tell me of the time you were fishing

and were dragged under by the current and carried down-stream.


You came to a stop near the bank where the river

had faded to a shallow brook and could not carry you further,


and you slept because you were far from home and tired.

It is hard now to imagine the story of the photo


could be told any other way, the two of us with nothing more to say,

staring at the wall, the two men holding up the flag to us


as if we, too, were lying back into the tall grass at midday,

leaving so much left undone, the wind touching everything.




 Just off the Hennepin Bridge



From here, downtown is magnificent. Bold. Stark.

Bright, against the dull haze of cloud cover. Light

fits so easily into so many different places:  in the


office windows across the river, in the face of the moon, and

in the puddles that still dot the earth after this afternoon’s rain.

Even in these bricks in the street, as if placed here like seeds.


To think, last night, just a few blocks from here two men

were shot to death over nothing. The man who did it was

found at home, sitting in front of the TV. He was watching


the news for his story. The men were no one he knew.

Said he kissed each man, full on the lips before he shot

them. Told them Jesus loved them and they would be


saved. He just needed their wallets. He needed to eat

and he wanted a beer. Nothing more. Nothing personal.

Man’s gotta eat, ya know. Man’s gotta eat.


Trick or treaters approach me, howling and laughing.

When they pass me, they pass by silently. Single file.

Eyes straight ahead. Fingers clutching their candy bags.


I watch them disappear around the bend. A squad car drifts up slowly. 

The man at the wheel tells me that I should move on. Maybe because

I’m smiling, because I seem too interested, and I’m writing all this down.



Ralph Pennel teaches creative writing, composition and literature online for Globe University in Minnesota and currently lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.

Misting Rain in December, oil painting by Brent Spink

Scot Siegel


Roadside Memo: Jasmine

Sulfur in the morning glory's juice served to vulcanize the rubber; 

a process pre-dating Charles Goodyear's discovery by over 3,000 years.

                                                – from “The History of Tires” (Wikipedia)



Foreclosure reeks like the dead spaniel

he walks past on his way to work now

Gas prices & middle age urge him onward

Nature is aloof in lavish gardens. Himalayan

blackberry, Scotch broom, English ivy

invade the last of the East Bay woodlands


Morning glories have no mercy. They’ll pull

down a house board-by-board & drag it

into the marsh. Though one flower overtakes

the smell of truck brakes burning… Here she

sloughs on a cedar fence, says: Stay for a while

Linger on my musky neck. Lick my balmy dusk…


He cannot resist, plants himself on a kelpy

boulder, cars whizzing by, tailpipes spewing

sulfur …  Mothers with strollers. Mexican

landscapers. Teenagers with freshly-minted

licenses. All disappear on the blind curve ahead…

Now a dark wind floods the roadside gully


The dank swale quickly fills, tinctured with a

girlish scent. She drifts over on a cobweb teddy,

fingers his hair & cups his eyes …  She whispers

through his veins like silver



Scot Siegel lives in Oregon. His poetry appeared recently in MiPOesias, OCHO, and High Desert Journal, among others. His second full-length book of poems is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry in early 2012.

ŠAll materials, print, artwork and photography on this site are copyrighted and not to be reprinted without written permission by The Smoking Poet.

Feedback, submissions, ideas? Email