Wednesday, September 5, 2012


asks us to use this trio of paired words

familiar/rare diminish/increase doubt/certainty


Imagine a time, way, way ahead,
When things living now are more than dead....
When familiar creatures are more than rare;
They're simply, simply not even there.
When the years of doubt about their survival
Have ended with certainty's arrival.
When creatures no longer know increase;
When numbers diminish.....and then cease.
When well-loved animals are no more;
They're deader than the dinosaur.
Our descendants will have to look
In the pages of a picture-book
To see what was once so rich and various.
Life on earth is so precarious.


They tell me that an Eskimo
Has hundreds of words with the meaning 'Snow'
And that seems just a little bit excessive.
But you and I have quite a few
Connected to what our nose can do;
Our playfulness with 'smell' is quite impressive.

Let's take 'smell,' itself, to start;
We can smell an apple tart,
But, also, something not at all delicious.
We can smell that doggy-do
On the bottom of our shoe,
And that's a smell that really is pernicious.

So 'smell', the word, is good or bad,
Making us either mad or glad,
According to the type of smell referred to.
The sense of 'smell' is simply bland
Accepting whatever is on hand;
It's simply something we've attached a word to.

But take a little word like 'stink'!
The thought of it can make us shrink,
Rejecting the foul experience completely.
It conjours up some ghastly mess,
Emitting foul unpleasantness,
Certainly nothing to smell at all like sweetly.

'Odor' is next on the smelly scale;
Think of old socks (from a male),
Think of food that's left refrigerating.
This will make us hold our noses;
Even shout out 'Holy Moses!'
It often leads to things incriminating.

Then there's 'aroma', a cooking smell
Which often casts a delicious spell
As it wafts noseward from the kitchen stove.
Aroma speaks of warmth and food,
And puts us in a pleasant mood,
As though we've found an edible treasure-trove.

Then we come to a neutral term;
Some 'scent' can make a human squirm
While being to a dog quite fascinating.
Meanwhile the scent of a pretty flower,
Not designed to overpower,
Can be both gentle and exhilarating.

Finally, there's 'perfume' ; well,
It is so much more than 'smell';
It has the power to drive us to distraction.
Sprayed behind a lady's ears,
It can reduce a man to tears,
As it adds so much to sexual attraction.

That word 'perfume' is so erotic,
Making human love exotic,
Casting a crazy and romantic spell;
'Stink' and 'perfume are poles apart;
One is gross, one from the heart.
And both of them are, very simply, 'smell'.


Madeleine Begun Kane said...

So sad to imagine, but very well said. And I enjoyed your second poem too.

Maxwell Mead Williams Robinson Barry said...