Dark Angels Note 48

Dearest friends,

Welcome back to our writerly thoughts to distract, inspire and reassure you. Be well, keep reading, keep writing and know that we’re always here..


1 Writing

Last night on the Advanced Writing Course we had an interesting discussion around the sense of smell, particularly how the perception of odours can vary significantly from person to person.

Read the poems below. Think of a scent that you find intense. Then consider the idiosyncrasies of sensory perceptions, considering whether or how these experiences can be both personal and universal.


2 Reading

Smelling the Snow

I’ve heard it said
there are those on such
close terms with night
they can smell the very light.

Not only does the moon,
they say, give off a scent
nothing like the sun’s,
but old moon smells

sweeter than slivered new.
Monks of old claimed sin
took the breath away, while
God was wild onion, lilac, pine.

I know a carpenter who
boasts he can sniff out a maple
in a woodlot of ash and oak.
A stalking cat knows

the unsinging sparrow
from the finch. This day
as it returns to Ohio, like
some feathery creature

seeking the very moon and tree
where it was born,
I can smell the snow,
which seems to me,

against the dark trees
moving in slow procession,
a few birds stark and silent,
an essence close to love.

But any old fool can smell love.

David Citino
Published in Poetry Magazine, 1994.


The Sense of Smell

I was driving through north Texas,
past thirty miles of stockyards,
hundreds of thousands of cattle,

mud and dung, cows standing on
other cows, I could hear them lowing,
even with the radio on, the window up.

The smell was immense, it soaked
through the car: I held my breath,
but I just burst when I drove past

picnic tables, complete with barbecues,
flowers and shade, not more than ten feet from
the draining ditch and the stockyard fence.

I wondered, who could ever eat in a place like this,
who would want to listen to music, smell roses,
grill a steak, watching the cows watching you?

After awhile you lose your sense of smell.
Life is gentle that way, and cruel. The world
renders itself senseless for us and
we get used to everything.

Hugh Steinberg
Published in Poetry Magazine, 1994.


3 Sharing


perhaps rain

a branch, leafless
opportunity of universe

before we can say
the jay is here, landing

light as scent,
writing love

along the open line
each moment offers

softly, we give thanks
with our attention

so she leaves
the blue air still laughing

into each day flies everything
and into night

satellites perhaps

Tim Rich



Join us via Zoom for an hour of writing and talking with other Dark Angels. We meet at 7pm UK time every Tuesday. Click here on the night. There’s no need to register in advance and we’ll be using the same link every week from now on. There’s no charge. And feel free to bring a friend along.

From everyone at Dark Angels


Also published on Medium.