This Poem was Submitted By: Mark D. Kilburn On Date: 2006-11-14 12:07:53 . . . Click Here To Mail this Poem to a Friend!
To Listen to Music While Reading this Poem, just Click Here!
Click Here To add this poem to your "Voting Possibilities" list!
Copyright © November 2006 Mark D. Kilburn
Olfactory and Memory
I got that smell, that strong nauseating
smell, Gasoline slopped on my pants
somehow, and that smell brought the
memories back more vividly than a
forty-foot tall hi-definition,
wraparound TV with surround sound-
I am alone in the theatre
Gasoline and Vietnam
All Nam’s other smells rush my
nostrils as if something was waving
each scent individually, inches under
my nose. Fresh smells of Budweiser,
cigarettes, laughter, fear, horror and sulfur,
I learned to enjoy the panicky sulfuric
smell of gunpowder
But never Gasoline
reminds me too much of diesel fuel,
which smells just like napalm.
Now I can smell burning flesh
and I should be puking
The hypnotic aroma of very strong
Cambodian marijuana wafts into my
mind and near-pure golden triangle
heroin is cooking, seeping into my soul,
Two or five dollar shots daily.
I smell absolute reality at the smack shack,
that singed burnt chemical odor,
promising to ease many fragged
memories, and I should be sweating
Habits give you something
to think about, but they will not
help the guilty, there is no guilt
training in Nam, just that
Gasoline smell, and death.
Now I smell death.
I washed some guy’s guts and brains
off and out of his Jeep last night.
I still smell them---(and defeat)
I roll up my sleeve and hand the
a five dollar bill.
I’m going home to change my pants…
This Poem was Critiqued By: Claire H. Currier On Date: 2006-12-05 03:33:34
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.45455
Mark.....never been to Vietnam and personally never experienced such horrors of war.....my heart goes out to you along with my thanks and my prayers. My hubby served during this time as well and we loss many friends in the war........and the horror stories were shared by those that returned.......some without their body in one piece and their mind wishing they were some place else. The smell of marijuana I do know well for it was at that time my hubby , for whatever reason he had, began toking.........He never stopped......I do thank the good Lord he did not take up any other drugs while serving his country so far from home and the nightmares continue to this day. Your words bring forth such images and smells poet.........what can one say other then thank you for sharing this portion of your life.......perhaps this will help some to understand that war is not a good thing and even when it is over goes on. God Bless, Claire
This Poem was Critiqued By: Dellena Rovito On Date: 2006-11-30 18:11:44
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.54545
This is a volatile political situation in a poem.
Each line exploades in misery of war.
The strong sense of smell pulls you into each line of horor.
Funny how life/death/napalm seem the norm.
I can see why heroin was used to squelch the nightmare and numb the mind as
to what was going on.
And heroin is soooooo addicting. Soldiers could be ruined for life.
And to start wars for the political few to line their pockets is such a travesty.
And you suffer the memories hereafter.
I'm so sorry.
Your poem put me in the thick of it. I relate somewhat.
This Poem was Critiqued By: Thomas Edward Wright On Date: 2006-11-28 15:47:50
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
I would end it at "dollar bill."
The jeep scene reminds of the WWII poem about the Turret Gunner.
Some wars are meant to be lost.
Hopefully, you're winning another one.
This Poem was Critiqued By: marilyn terwilleger On Date: 2006-11-14 15:33:49
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.83333
Hi Mark....this is such a powerful poem and one I can realte to. My late husband fought in Korea and was wounded there....but did come home. He had horrible nightmares as a result of that little "police action" and I thought he would never be free of them. My grandson spent a year in Iraq but by the grace of God he came home and the only wounds he now endures are emotional. There have been times in my mind when I have had memories triggered by smells and usually they are not good memories....don't know why that is. I am so sorry for the hell you endured in Nam....no human being should ever have to be exposed to so much fear and suffering. So now we are at it again....sending our young people to die on far away soil and we are doing this because......? Wonderful poem....a clear winner. Thanks for sharing this painful experience.
This Poem was Critiqued By: James C. Horak On Date: 2006-11-14 13:20:08
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
I am privilaged, Mark, to be allowed to touch this poem. Believe me, I do
so in utmost regard and respect. It is like the graves of close friends I lost
in that war and it is a homage to those recollections of the suffering survivors
have shared with me.
It is with bitterness I watch as a new generation is fed to this madness, out
of little more than failed foreign policy and the most corrupt kind of agenda
grinding. All the fat put into the pockets of the war profiteers does not justify
the loss of one life to a war that lies began and distortions of the truth and
common sense continue.
I'm certain, in my own mind, so much of the damage, as shown in your tremendous
poem, would not have manifested had the war had clear and defined objectives and
subscribed to a cause that Americans could have identified. It did not, and the
American veteran of it came home to being a double casualty of it.
From your astute observation of how much our nose can trigger recollection, to
the evident mental compensations one sublimates to endure the awful meaning of
napalm, to what horrifyingly becomes "casual" in any war of occupation, to the
acquired (what Viet Nam became famous for) use of heavy drugs, and to the ironic
mix of present day street "warfare", yours is a reality check upon our culture's
bare ass. Timeless and profound, it rings true in every respect.
Poetically, the poem is beautiful. Where it succeeds the most is in never leaving
one perspective but still "saying it all".
Nothing would please me more than to see this poem win the prize this month. For
a host of reasons.
Poetry Contests Online at The Poetic Link
Click HERE to
return to ThePoeticLink.com Database Page!