Animal dung smells
hang heavy in thick air of suspense.
The stink of carnivore dung
is quite different than the
oddly sweet scent of herbivore dung.
I’ve become expert on such things
as I feverishly stride
through long afternoons of dejection.
They feed me plenty and often~~
raw, red horsemeat, scent of blood.
My cage is hosed down three times-a-day
watering away wild odors.
My trainer—we are faithful to each other
~~he sweats profusely—mustily
as he trains away fierceness
and retrains fierce pretense.
growling and scowling as we rehearse.
Performance night a collage of smells
–clowns acrid greasepaint
reeking of cheap perfumes
popcorn and hotdogs vie for supremacy.
All the people blend into one
of fear, excitement and their daily dramas.
between cage and circus tent,
I catch it…
a whisper of deep forest fragrance
wrought with imagination
of strange stalking beasts
of birds with multi-syllabic calls
olfactory descent into wild ways.
And I stop
in that wild breeze pause.
I tug at the rope that collars me
and rear up slightly
on cramped hind legs.
I groan a roar that crawls deeper
than any loneliness.
Then, it’s gone
–the smells of today snap me back
camouflaging uncivilized dreams.
Everyone has a nose. They come in all shapes and sizes; their purpose is universal. Though we don’t rely on them in the same ways that animals do, we do count on them to warn us of smoke or beckon when our favorite pie has come out of the oven. Besides being great for breathing and filtering the air, noses are olfactory memory generators!
Several years ago, I attended a Writer’s Conference in Ashland, Oregon. I chose to work with poet and author, Kim Addonizio, over the five days of the conference. I am so grateful to have had this experience. One of the final assignments was to write a poem based in the sense of smell.
I returned to my room and sat there for awhile, tallying the possible directions I could go with this theme. Suddenly, it fell into place. Being an empath, I never really liked circuses. One brother is an animal right’s activist. I’ve taken my kids to a few circuses, but we felt unease.
In the poem above, I became the circus tiger in the cage and wrote from that perspective.
The invitation is yours to write a poem or prose with the sense of smell as your prompt. Follow your nose and see where it takes you.