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Friday, April 16, 2010


NaPoWriMo Day 16

For Read Write Poem

RWP member Julie Jordan Scott launches her NaPoWriMo prompt with a quote from Diane Ackerman: “Smells detonate softly in our memory like poignant land mines hidden under the weedy mass of years.” Julie reports having discovered in her own notes 17 pages on the subject! Here’s the prompt she culled from material she’s collected:
Practicing the art of writing from the sense of smell will open language in a different way than writing from a more “language friendly” sense, like the sense of sight or sound. Because of this, writing that uses a scent prompt evokes visceral, richly experienced poetry.
Scientific fact: Salmon smell their stream of birth from hundreds of miles away. The scent of this particular stream weaves its way to the salmon like a love-call. It rises and falls with the water, its essence calling the ancient connection. The salmon respond to this invitation and make their way back to their spawning ground.
Humans have primitive connections to the sense of smell, as well. It is our most primal sense, especially since the connections between the language centers and smell sensory centers are so few. Our sense of smell is tied to our most ancient selves. Another intriguing fact? Smell is connected closely to our memory centers even though it is distant from our language centers.
Somewhere near where you are sitting is something with a specific smell that will conjure a memory rich with images. Take a moment to find any such object and breathe the scent of it, deeply. It may be as simple as a strand of your hair, a ketchup bottle from the refrigerator, a potholder or a bottle of lotion.
Add to your breath the simple phrase, “I remember” and breathe the scent in again. “I remember.” Free write from “I remember” for at least five minutes, repeating the prompt “I remember” if your writing slows.
Use the seeds from your free writing to write today’s poem.


I remember – Changnoi’s old tee-shirt. Fragrance/memory/legend/respect/farang(foreigner)Ratchada(in Bangkok)Huay Khwang(suburb of Ratchada)voices/wai(hands joined raised to face; bow)anonymous/shoeshop girls/morning paper/sawasdee ja, phor Changnoi(hello Changnoi’s Dad)time/a maze in Thailand(Amazing Thailand)attitude adjuster


Smell of souvenir
The fragrance of memory
Just an old tee-shirt?


Word was out
The word was ‘Changnoi’
The boy’s name

Ratchada’s new kid
Reputation established
Anonymous dad

At each turn
Another voice calls
Mar du si’

‘Come and see Changnoi’...

In the maze that is Huay Khwang
A legend is born

To foreigner; me

Because of the boy
No longer am I ignored
Take, for example

Half mile trip
Newspaper journey
One hour plus

Three girls; teenagers
Sitting, chatting; workplace snub
Shoe shop employees

Love the boy’s
Enigmatic smile
His presence

Their earlier taunts
Pointing, and giggling ‘Farang!’
At me, for my sins

Because of their love
For Changnoi

Now ‘wai’ their greeting
Sawasdee ja, phor Changnoi
Quiet, respectful


  1. Well done! I can almost smell them!

  2. Thanks Stiletto; Smells often conjur nostalgic memories.

  3. Scenting acceptance; nice memories, Stan.

  4. Enjoyed your reflections here and seeing how you became accepted as more than a foreigner in a foreign land.

  5. Free-write aspects eveident here at opening; movement toward refinement very cool, like focusing in the lens. Well done.

  6. Great poems. Thanks for posting them.

  7. Thanks to:
    Andy; Similar happening with Diamond.
    Derrick; Attitudes adjust with knowledge and experience.
    Robin; Acceptance matters...
    Ron; Usually I free-write and fine-tune in my head, and present basically the first draft.
    Poemblaze; Thanks for visiting.

  8. Stan,
    These are wonderful!

  9. Thanks Pamela; Wonderful memories!

  10. nice smells Stan...well done again

  11. Thanks Wayne; 2 more weeks of it yet!

  12. Killing it today! Awesome stuff!

  13. Thanks Dan; One of many great memoties...

  14. ahhh, so grateful to read your finely crafted words (as always)... am glad you responded to my prompt!

  15. Thanks Julie; Thanks for giving me the chance to relive the moments.