Green Hills Literary Lantern

Every Poet Has a Cigarette Poem



so I dig at my memories,

through ashtrays

left on tables bussed

of chicken bones,

uneaten salads sodden

with caesar dressing,

between upended

whole catfish, their gills

seeping oil spills

into the dark maw

of the trash can—


ashtrays mined for butts

like panning for gold, shaken

out and taken behind

Long Branch Restaurant

and smoked by an

unsuspecting fifteen year

old—with hope

that the nicotine

would fill her body like food,

fill the mind like

financial security,

but rather


finding fool’s gold—

the greasy end

sending a dark wave into

the caves of her lungs as

she belches smoke like the vents

behind the kitchens, eyes

glazed to the sky,

like the first

catfish crowned in



Kasey Perkins is a poetry MFA student at the University of Missouri - St. Louis, where she works as a editor for Natural Bridge. Before that, she was an active force in the poetry slam community in Kirksville, MO while attending Truman State. Her work has appeared in The Oracle, Lumina, SLAB, 580 split, and other journals. She is currently a composition and literature instructor at St. Charles Community College.