Couched potatoed I watch
Nigella Lawson mix up
moist chocolate cupcakes
and the smell wafts
through the flatscreen
landing softly in my olfactory
factory.

Whiff of wattle flowers
transports me back in time
to where my brown school shoes
clipped to class under
the watchful shelter
of a yellow canopy
and the water fountain
bubbled a simple tune.

Freshly cut grass
oozes aromatherapy
on the weekend
enchanting our souls.
It’s a scientific fact
the smell of cut grass
makes you feel good.
Here’s to Victor Mowers.

I can conjure your aftershave,
think it was called
sweat and sadism,
which I haven’t come
across in twenty years.
You smelt that good.

When people talk about
the big flood of 1974
I can smell the rotting stink of mud
ripping houses and marriages apart
and sticking on walls for decades.
Things take a long time to dry out.

Then there is the smell of hospitals
which
pretty pictures
on the walls fail to cover
and bouquets of flowers
and baskets of fresh oranges
cannot mask
no matter how much we wish
they did.

When I look into your eyes
I smell fear.
You may smell anger
in my pheromones.

Can you smell things on the TV?

27 thoughts on “The nose has it

    1. I am glad someone else does that Crafty Green Poet 🙂 Power of suggestion is probably right – or overactive imagination. I notice I can’t smell things on tv which I have no experience of (like the smell of something I’ve never eaten).

  1. GB, I wonder if this is two poems? The first takes us on a relaxed and pleasant trip through smell-memory and then when you move on to the ‘flood of ’74’, it darkens dramatically into pain, relationship breakdown, despair and the smells of human fear and anger. (maybe they are same smell). But that last stanza opened up a door to something you may like to rumble a bit more! Powerful!

    1. I know what you mean Stafford (I’ve added a stanza, that might help). I might write a separate poem on smell just dealing with the positive stuff. My poems often have a theme of duality or opposites in them – sometimes they make more sense as a collective of poems, rather than individually. Fear does smell different than anger (speaking from the perspective of a canine 🙂

  2. Wow, this is fantastic! Apart from being rich in scent and fragrance, everything here is heavily steeped in memory … such past-lived things I smell keenly too!

    Great poem!!

    1. Thank you Tracey. We all do, we just have to pay attention to it. Now that I’ve finished it I am remembering a whole other lot of smells – might have to do another one 🙂

  3. gabrielle,

    this poem is a wonder. you had those stories on the edges and i have yet to see the overall picture of what you are trying to convey through your senses. the depth of this poem unfathomable.

    have the best of times.

    1. Wow hames1977 that is a lovely comment. I know what you mean about ‘stories on the edges’ – I’ve just selected a tiny fraction of olfactory experience (though they are probably the ones with most impact).

  4. Lovely – I was there with every scent. The sense of smell is probably our most underutilized sense, but when you can use it right as you have, Wow!
    When you see a dog suddenly look up, nose quivering at something you can’t sense at all, you realise what humans have largely lost.

  5. I knew a guy once who lost his sense of smell and taste after a head injury. He lost about thirty pounds because eating ceased to be an enjoyable experience. He also had more than the acceptable amount of smoke detectors installed in his house because he developed a phobia of sleeping through a fire because he couldn’t smell the smoke.

  6. OMG. I could cry reading the stanza about the whiff of wattle because when I started school in Australia I had these shiny brown shoes that hurt my feet and I was really nervous and all I could smell was wattle. The scent of wattle always takes me back to that time.

    I watched a doco about the restaurants in San Francisco’s Chinatown and I swear I could smell the spices in the woks. It was so real. Who says Smell-a-vision doesn’t exist? Love this one!

    1. What’s the bet we had similar shoes Selma (we went to school around the same year). I think the smell really binds with the emotion, and the first day of school is huge for little kids (I also fondly remember the smell of the tuckshop basket – yummy – cream buns and sausage rolls). I was pretty nervous and didn’t know what to expect that first day. I’m glad you can smell through the tv (good imagination of course).

  7. My brother has no sense of smell and I always wonder what that would be like… I can’t begin to imagine. Loved breathing this in.

  8. Wow! What a great topic and poem.
    It is scary to me how smells can bring back stuff to you in emotions and events of the past. The strongest ones don’t last long for me but they are powerful and mysterious.

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