A smelly poem

A whiff of Charlie says Mum to me,
while 4711 brings Grandma back.
Chypre brings thoughts of a rival,
encountered via my man.

Cabbage and sweat and the outside loo
take me to my first wartime school;
polish and piety, to the convent.
Intense incense and I’m on my knees
fasting, struggling not to faint.

Roasting lamb is my in-laws’ house,
mixed in my mind
with the odour of dust
and disapproval.

Plenty of smells around babies
make me wish for those days again
when adorable powdered skin
demanded to be kissed,
or the pong of poo cried
“change me now”.

A tropical interlude taught me
aromas I’d never known –
frangipane and stinking fish,
fresh sea breeze and rotting seaweed .

Memories push and shove to bring back
the mixture of perfumes and stinks
that have been my life.

All these were recalled for http://wewritepoems.wordpress.com/

About https://vivinfrance.wordpress.com

All poetry, prose and pictures posted here, except where otherwise stated, is my own, and may only be used elsewhere with my expressed permission. Please don't be inhibited from correcting my bloopers and making suggestions: Most of what I post here is instant, ill-considered and off-the-cuff, in serious need of editing.
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24 Responses to A smelly poem

  1. kelly says:

    A wonderful journey through life… as told by a nose that knows. 🙂 This made me smile.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ava Hypatia says:

    I enjoyed your poem immensely; a resounding thank you! for taking me through your album via strong, meaningful scents.


  3. Sabio Lantz says:

    fun tour of your memories through scents

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Grace says:

    I recall those perfumes…they are distinct smells that last and colors our memories ~ Thanks Viv and wishing you Happy New Year ~

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love that you didn’t focus on a single scent but rather all the many scents that make up the many memories of your life. Very nice. 🙂 Peace, Linda

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sanaa Rizvi says:

    This is such a touching poem, thank you for sharing your memories with us 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. So many smells… especially the dust of in-laws… a whole life in just perfumes… so many yet unsmelled.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. nan says:

    4711=my grandmother also. Love what you did with this.


  9. mareymercy says:

    the odour of dust
    and disapproval.

    Love this! And the ending of course!


  10. Rinkly Rimes says:

    Yes. Remembered smells are very nostalgic, particularly when they take you by surprise. Nice one!


  11. Mike Patrick says:

    An aroma may be the most direct path to memory. Sight and sound work, but a scent can cause one to relive an event. This is a wonderful poem, Viv.


  12. neil reid says:

    My head spins Viv, just trying to keep up with your roller coaster of scented history. Almost breathless (in a fun sort of way). What Margo said, I agree – making or stating a life’s history through the memory – what the nose knows!! 🙂 Thanks Viv.



  13. pamelasayers says:

    Viv, this is so good. I can relate to the intense incense of my church going days. And the freshly powdered baby, something I truly miss. *sigh*



  14. Yousei Hime says:

    You’ve shared a lovely part of yourself by taking a stroll through scented memories. I really enjoyed this and appreciate your participation in my prompt.


  15. Hi Viv
    As long as you remember those smells, those long ago places & people aree not forgotten I enjoyed strolling (and smelling) through your memories.


  16. margo roby says:

    I love going through a life by way of smells. I have just written this down as an idea for a prompt. And, it was fun identifying with so many of the smells [almost all of them]through my own life. My favourite to remember: 4711, a scent I have carried in my memory banks since childhood.



  17. What a vibrant odoriferous life you have led. Aren’t smells wonderful? It’s good to have them, they help in later years with memory. I enjoyed your poem, not stinky at all.


  18. Viv, loved this travel through smells/scents. Beautiful!


  19. Irene says:

    What a great romp through the smells of the past. Though I wish the title could be less stinky.


  20. earlybird says:

    I enjoyed this, Viv. It’s amazing how one whiff of something can transport you to quite a different time and place.


  21. Viv, I inhaled this whole poem, even the baby poo! I do remember those diaper days with great fondness…

    My favorite smell was in our apartment in Puerto Rico. I’d keep jasmine potpourri in the house, and it mixed with the salt air and the humidity to create a dizzying, lush aroma. When I moved back stateside, I bought some jasmine potpourri, and it just smelled like obnoxious flowers. It’s all in the mix of time, place, and memory.

    Thanks for this gift today, Viv! Amy (and yes, you can use my poem, as long as you put my credit line on there – for your friend…) Here’s a new one:


  22. Pseu says:

    Some very evocative scent memories. Sent me off into thinking about smells…


  23. Tilly Bud says:

    Wonderful memories, Viv, especially the baby poo. Happy days 🙂


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