Odors and Smells

A Pungent Tale of Woe & Joy

By: - May 14, 2015


Odors and Smells

Odors & smells from a life


Wafts of exotic perfumes scrambled raw

By the Caribbean breeze

Bring home memories

Of a pungent tale of woe & joy

I need to tell it

Convincingly …

My absence from the native land

Lingered long enough

Decades kept me away from

Old habitual patterns

Hanging out with boon old chums

Some I barely knew but remembered

Others I knew well but passed

From my recollection

Chagrined by those who vanished

Into the deleted bin

But I yearned to see them again

All the madness we engaged in

Friendly caustic banters

Evening strolls off the beaten path

—Far from our genteel crowd

Roosted comfortably on the hills—

Illicit tours of the squatter areas

Where poverty forged the harshest possible life

This forsaken place we feared & relished

Looked as if it were an exquisite hell

Brazing pyres … cooking fires … lamp fires

Turned the warm darkness of night

Into the brightness of daylight

Each of our distinctive noses

Overwhelmed by clouds of odors & smells

Wafting wantonly about us

Devil’s fog we called it

Pork grinds in hot burning oil

Fishes big & small had a similar fate

Tassot beef … Tassot goat

Conch ragout … Black boudin

A hearty fritaille with a piquant sauce …

Now dizzied and ravenous

We gorged ourselves

We surrendered our gastronomic spirit

To the telluric powers of that life force

An affirmation of this natural presence

Possessed by both the forces of good & evil

The pungent smells of squalor

The bold odors of rustic cooking

The crackling of wood fires

The deafening cackle of the multitude

Masses of humanity moving

Like broken waves gave me vertigo

For a moment I felt adrift and rudderless

Like a loose buoy in a turning sea

I felt their presence—the ancestors

The exquisite manifestation of a motherland

Her stern embrace we all felt …

All of it brought us close

To the particular sense of blackness

We shared that night

But to the rest of them

The downtrodden proletarian

We were outlanders