Poetry 2013 / Volume 44

Smelly Poem — Paul Hostovsky

What is that evil stench, you ask yourself,
looking around for its source, its etiology, its home,
if smells can be said to have homes.
It’s a homeless sort of smell, a sodden-
socks, ratty-sneakers, urine-in-a-doorway
sort of smell. You don’t suppose
it could be coming from that pretty girl
with the flawless skin and excellent teeth
laughing and talking with that handsome
man in the sensible shoes, do you?
Anything is possible. Anyone could have
a leaky urostomy bag or suppurating leg infection going on underneath. You yourself
could have bad-tooth breath and not even know it. That evil stench could be yours, it could be
you. You could have stepped in a small death, the kind your dog loves to roll around in, and brought it
home with you, wrapped in it now like a shawl.

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