May 21, 2008


It saturates my bed sheets

and my pillows. It seeps from the fridge.

It coats the leather seats in my car, and wafts

with the breezes outside.

It flavors my Thai dinner

three hours from home.

It is on my clothes when the wind shifts,

my fingertips when I bite my nails.

Suspicious, I look over my shoulder

in public, sniff my sleeves deeply and often.

I wear too much cologne.

The smell is rancid fruits and raw meat.

It is warm and sweet. Acidic. It has overwhelmed

the scent of my skin. I shower several times.

I become obsessive, scrubbing furiously

until lather clouds every centimeter

of flesh. My rinse water scalds.

My red-raw skin steams as I towel it,

the smell isn’t gone.

Sweeter, warmer, more acidic –

and not gone.

I open windows.

I do laundry,

burn incense.

I scratch the oil off my arms and face.

The girl was loud. She howled and groaned

and bumped the wall ‘til I woke. I perked up

and listened in the dark to her

gurgles and whimpers. I feared briefly

for her wellbeing, but I was petrified

by the inhumanness of her noise.

I remained in bed, still,

and listened until she had quieted.

The stink of her wretch came quick

under my door. Poisoned, it seems. By some toxic

amalgamation of Sex on the Beach

and too-strong margaritas. Tropical,

sickeningly sweet.

I imagined her on all fours

outside my room in a grass skirt

and a coconut bra, pineapple

bile splattering up on her lei.

I find myself washing my hands

before I go to the bathroom – afraid of the smell

as though it were physical, infectious.

I find strong chemicals

and draw their fumes deeply in,

to cleanse, to eradicate.

It saturates.

Pat Doge

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