Whitestench

The odor strangles sometimes,
merely distracts at others, always sets
my teeth to grinding.

I walk into a discussion where it flavors the air,
try to join in and I’m soon choking so much
the others can’t understand me.

I turn to art for solace and it rises from between
pages, stings my eyes till paintings blur;
even music reeks. That job interview

stank with it; this online forum — how is this
even possible — I cannot see its words
through the miasma.

The halls of Congress,
the trading floor of Wall Street, every tower
where a titan of industry schemes: all

are thick with it; they might be tombs —
one whiff of the air in there recalls
dead generations piled upon dead generations.

Now and then I even pick it up on
a breeze through a forest, a breeze
that must have passed over a pipeline.

Sometimes I can tell it is coming
directly from me — mouth,
clothes, being. Half of me wants

to flee myself; the other half
holds my breath,
pinches off my nose,

makes me duck,
get close to the ground,
look into myself for better air.

About Tony Brown

A poet with a history in slam, lots of publications; my personal poetry and a little bit of daily life and opinions. Read the page called "About..." for the details. View all posts by Tony Brown

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