2017 April PAD Challenge: Day 28

For today’s prompt, write a poem about a smell. Similar to Day 6’s prompt about writing a poem about a sound, today’s prompt involves thinking about the various good and bad smells that fill the world. Pick one smell (or a variety, I suppose), and write a poem.


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Here’s my attempt at a Poem About a Smell:

“fabric softener”

fold me into your subtle waves of
cationic softeners & perfume
knowing you won’t need hung out to dry


Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). For better or worse, he does like the smell of most fabric softeners.

Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.


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359 thoughts on “2017 April PAD Challenge: Day 28

  1. Jane Shlensky

    Dirt Squeezers

    My people handle soil, their lives
    of constant toil refreshed by knowing
    how to use what earth supplies,
    imagine possibilities.

    They read the ground beneath their feet,
    squeeze handfuls, lift them to the nose,
    and breath whatever fecund musk there be
    as if they sip from a spoon.

    A loamy soil clumps and relaxes;
    clay is hard and needs some sand.
    Dirt squeezers add and take away,
    soil sifted, crumbled in their hands.

    We smell the rain and winter past,
    compost, manure, vegetable rot.
    We smell a garden yet to come,
    a wisp of corn and marigolds.

  2. Jane Shlensky

    They Can Smell Fear

    He held the gun as I pumped gas,
    just smoked his cigarette and sipped his drink.
    He reeks of smoke and sweat and booze,
    stale breath and mean and twisted thoughts.
    Rattled, the last slosh soaked my shoes
    and jeans, but he won’t let me wash.
    “Get in!” he snaps, eyes flash dark
    with new ideas, and I am so afraid
    I will ignite.

  3. Nancy Posey

    Ode to Homegrown Tomatoes

    Some truths are so cliché
    they could go unsaid, but don’t.
    I could pass on old folk wisdom,
    but I won’t.

    This thing I know that I will tell:
    You can tell a real tomato
    by its smell.

    Don’t be fooled by color
    like the rest.
    A perfect shape means nothing.
    The ugly ones are best.

    But the blind could find
    a tomato that’s homegrown:
    Breathe in that deep aroma
    of the sunshine and the loam.

    They can’t be saved for later.
    They can’t be shipped for miles.
    Just breathe their fragrant perfume,
    and smile.

  4. LCaramanna

    After The Rain

    Cocoa beans smelled of promise
    on hot, humid days,
    promise of employment,
    promise of economy,
    promise of candy.

    After the rain,
    those cocoa beans from West Africa,
    dumped from a burlap bag,
    and processed into chocolate,
    smelled of paradise
    and sweetened life’s bitter moments.

    After the rain
    the scent of cocoa beans
    enveloped the city,
    the city with a future in Nestle chocolate,
    and all paused to breathe deep.

    In time,
    cocoa beans’ promise
    drowned in a wave of technology
    leaving red brick ruins
    and melancholy memories
    of sweet chocolate smells
    after the rain.

  5. lily black

    The Cute Brown Celica

    Laughing singing and driving
    home from girls day out
    at the lake
    in that cute brown Celica
    we hit that skunk
    or missed it
    I think
    but that skunk
    never missed us!
    It was not like the weed
    or the coffee from that Keurig machine
    A smell I could see
    though my eyes
    watered like ammonia
    passed through tear ducts
    dry and cut with salt
    A puff of smoke
    that once cute car
    We sputtered and
    sprouted wings
    hurrying to showers
    of juice
    and vinegar.
    I still can’t smell
    good weed
    without thinking
    of that cute brown Celica
    and the girls day out.

  6. SharylAnn


    Petrichor (n.)
    The smell of earth after rain.

    The country girl
    in me looks for
    the simple joys
    in life …
    Tempting smells
    of supper cooking
    Honeysuckle drifting
    on a spring breeze
    But …
    What is the very best …
    The smell that
    takes me back
    to Childhood
    is that crisp
    clean smell of
    rain washed earth
    and air after
    a gentle Spring Rain …

    Copyright © 2017 Sharyl
    Always…I wish you peace, joy and happiness, but most of all I wish you Love.
    As Ever, Sharyl

  7. pamelaraw

    How My Neighbor Likes Her Coffee

    brewed by 6 a.m.
    Last week’s box
    from Black and Decker
    the coffeepot.
    Or at least
    I imagine
    it did.
    For months
    there’s been no
    sign of life
    in apartment 4
    other than
    the occasional
    from Proactiv
    or Walmart.
    a postcard sat
    on her welcome mat
    for five days.
    every morning
    I wake
    to the only
    trace of her
    I know.

  8. J.lynn Sheridan

    when we returned

    there’s thunder
    rising toward heaven
    and the children have gone home

    rain is falling somewhere
    across this sleeping world

    the old man writes quietly
    in front of the open fireplace

    his sweet dreams becoming
    clear as he fills the page

    when he thinks nobody is listening,
    he sings softly about faith and battles

    now that we’ve grown weary of
    imaginary joy, (we are fools)
    we hear things unspoken

    it’s only natural that the scent
    of his wisdom lingers on

  9. BDP

    Sijo #28: Smell

    A toddler stoops, hand holding mother’s, nose near a blue bloom.
    She gestures, asks something I can’t hear. Mom nods, smiles. They trundle on.
    When is the fragrance of a flower no longer a child’s first sniff?

  10. Anvanya


    Flatlands and barely-there rolling hills
    Limn the low desert and the high desert
    In southern California. Her colors fade from
    Volcanic black to shaded pinks and browns
    That enfold one another, seen in the through-
    Cuts on your ascent from the low to the high.

    She’s not just sand and more sand and jack-rabbits
    And horned toads and sidewinders and wolf spiders –
    Her scent is so old that most will have lost their
    Pre-programmed internal recognition while on the drive
    Toward Twenty-nine Palms. She has manufactured
    Hints along the way – you can see a fault line before
    You reach the deserty environs, and her colors
    Are hinting at some transition zone when you cross
    The White Water flash-flood way.

    You don’t need to rely on your sight
    When traveling east from the great coastal city.
    Indeed, there is a place on the road where
    Just south of San Bernardino and Yucaipa,
    Just west of San Jacinto, your nose
    Will know that desert is imminent:
    A sudden dryness in the wind, a burst of highly
    Foreign scents and an undeniable whiff of
    Ages old rocks curtain the air,
    Separating city from her wild.

  11. Linda Hatton

    You Smell Like Bubble Gum

    when I try to write,
    I smell that bubble gum
    I hid in my closet
    in the house
    where I grew up.
    I remember feeling lucky.
    You’d given it to me
    for Christmas
    when I was sixteen.
    I hadn’t seen you in years
    when you made
    that surprise visit
    and handed
    me a gift. I carried
    that present upstairs
    like a newborn, pondering
    what lay swaddled
    underneath the paper.
    I ripped it open
    and found gumballs
    lined up side by side
    like soldiers at rest.
    I popped one
    into my mouth
    and I was taken back
    to our bowling alley
    field trip
    where the vending machine
    tossed out chewing gum
    like bullets
    from a machine gun.
    It took me a year
    to chew that gum.
    With each fruity ball I rolled
    between my teeth, I wondered
    when you’d roll back into my life.
    I never got that lucky.
    The next time I saw you,
    your casket reminded me
    of that bubblegum


  12. Eileen S

    Obsessive Fragrances
    Sweet smell of perfume leaves
    a splendid presence that brings
    connoisseurs to olfactory oblivion.
    Purer minds looking into mirrored glass see distress. 
    Blue sky turns serene as clouds float by.
    Two chilly breezes calm the consciousness.
    Merciful winds. 

  13. ppfautsch24

    The Scent of Him
    Comforting like the smell of early morning coffee;
    But bitter and staunch when I drink him all in.
    His spicy Bergamot scent does me in every time.
    Leaving me scented like grains of salty beach water. Yet, I just can’t get enough of the scent of him.
    By Pamelap

  14. Walter J Wojtanik


    “Life is like music; it must be composed by ear, feeling and instinct, not by rule”. ~ Samuel Butler

    Throw the handbook out the window,
    it serves no good purpose. No rule can dictate
    what lies buried deeply within. The symphony
    of existence becomes a cacophony
    of a metered and melodic meander
    through the movements we affect;
    a direct and didactic work of art.
    No instinct can be denied, for inside
    lies the masterwork of The Maestro,
    every note ingrained and paced only
    by a loving heart and a feeling soul.
    The music of life plays sweetly
    touching the strings that bind us together.
    You can feel the passion swell,
    there is no mistaking its melody.


  15. Alphabet Architect

    Heaven Scent

    A floral shirtwaist dress
    Crunchy cornflake chicken
    Hand mirror and dress gloves…
    Memories of Grandma
    Evoke the scent of her
    A scent like no other
    Subtle, exquisite, sweet
    Sweet like Heaven’s incense –
    Prayers of saints like Grandma
    Wafting before the throne
    Her home is Heaven now
    Though her scent revisits
    Prompting me to pray more
    For my own grandchildren

  16. drwasy

    The Smell of God

    I woke once in Stockholm
    and outside the morning
    smelled of water and light
    and the way the sun slants
    through cumulonimbus clouds,
    a scent more refined
    than any perfume or flower;
    I have wakened many times
    since wishing for that dawn
    when the day smelled elusive
    and full of promise.

  17. Sarah Metzler

    i take
    the shortcut home

    pine tree
    make me green
    with envy

    only her perfume
    rises from the mattress
    inherited bed

    out of my mind
    spice bush scent

  18. Pat Walsh

    By Patrick J. Walsh

    it was cold and
    the days were short
    during the period
    when he was unloading
    the stuff from the trailer
    so he didn’t really notice
    until quite a while later
    how he had unloaded
    the various aromas of
    the old summer house
    along with the furniture

  19. Amy Miller


    In her house you ate Jell-O and soup. You drank Seven-Up
    and if you were good you fizzed a snowball
    of ice cream in it. In her house she papered the porch
    with crayoned pages, dinosaurs and cars and crazy-haired
    horses. In her house you played that organ,
    tremolo pedal and levers wheezing their tinny
    horns while the tall, dark painting of the buck
    watched curious from its Rockies of the wall.
    In her house you played with pill bottles, dozens
    that rattled when you opened the drawer of the big
    end table. You took your bath and didn’t complain.
    You squeezed out Prell and rubbed with Dial
    in the deep tub with squared corners and a stopper
    on a chain. You went to an airless room
    while across the hall she retired to her cloister
    where no small hands could enter. Through
    the cracked door you saw her unwind
    the bun of hair, long tail like a river of silver yarn
    all the way down her broad back. Then night
    crowded in, the smell of soap
    hanging like a rare indoor flower.

  20. Maria Grace

    Spring smells of melting
    Running water and first green
    Of hope and new life.

    Summer is heavy,
    Incensed by sagebrush and pine.
    How I long for rain.

    Autumn comes, fragrant,
    Aspen bitter, tang of leaves;
    restless wandering.

    Winter smells of frost,
    Of cinnamon and Christmas,
    Of comfort and joy.

  21. Imelda

    If souls have a scent
    what will mine be?

    Will it smell of lavender
    like clean laundry

    or will it smell fetid
    like a corpse flower

    how badly have my sins
    spoiled the brand-new smell
    of my new-born soul

    I am curious

    one can hide behind good works
    or the semblance of the good life
    as defined by the world

    but the scent
    the scent betrays
    what rots in hidden places

  22. Jacqueline Hallenbeck

    how i killed mickey
    (true story)

    tried glue traps
    it didn’t work!
    he’d just stare at me
    and smirk
    and terrorize me about the house

    till he
    followed me
    into the loo
    as I went {{blush}}
    number two…
    rest in peace, dear little mouse!

    1. Jacqueline Hallenbeck

      how i killed mickey
      (true story)

      tried glue traps
      it didn’t work!
      he’d just stare at me
      and smirk
      and terrorize me about the house

      till he
      followed me
      into the loo
      as I went {{blushing}}
      number two…
      rest in peace, dear little mouse!


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