We were asked to write a poem inspired by a well-known movie, so I chose The Big Heat. I focused on all the smells left out of the movie -- or the most important smells.
The Big Heat
Burn ointment, after it's sat for a day
on her cheek. The reek of stolen
steak coming from the oven, constant
cigar smoke. Cordite on her thumb
from shooting her sister . Hot coffee,
dripping into the neck of her silver
dress. Mint, faintly, around the rim
of her mouth in the morgue, and
hairspray. Black velvet gloves,
once they absorb the scent of violet
hand cream, of spilled high balls.
The smoke of a wife's burning hair
as the car flames, how the cotton back
of a sofa smells after it's been shot.
The duck pajama pants of a daughter scared
to get out of bed once it's dark. Gardenia
perfume like the bottom of a dancer's shoe.
Gin slowly breathing in a jam jar.