Ghost of Mama, Passed
Damnedest thing, this smell
Can’t get it out of hair
nor clothes nor bedding
That shit cost me a career
Two weeks of stench
clinging like a needy ex
stalking me like that one guy who…
Here comes freakazoid strange:
Niece calls me, nervous, feels like
“Grandma is trying to say something
to me, it’s important”
Now, I was Charlotte’s listening daughter
But Kati was Grandma’s smoking buddy
They sat and puffed for hours
while I choked in the next room
(but grinning because, hey,
Charlotte smoking and hacking was
still better than Charlotte drinking)
Twentysome years Mom’s been dead
After so much time, you think?
Charlotte clouding me with smoke
and Kati still puffing, could it be?
Mama, we are listening
Tell us what to do
© 2014 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
At Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, we’re playing, Play it Again, Toads! Going back to an old prompt. First came Ella, invoking Halloween; then, there was a site of lines from ghost poems, one of which we must incorporate into our poem.
One struck me, from Ghost by Paul Mariani: After so much time you think… although I rephrased it for effect.
The experience in my poem is real. It could be weaning off a psych med, although the side effect was not confirmed by my psychiatrist. Maybe some old secondhand smoke finally draining out of my sinuses, like old toxins? Possibly a denim jacket from St. Vincent de Paul that I didn’t launder enough before wearing a few days in a row? It could be something ‘brainiacal,’ and for that I will consult my physician Monday.
But I think it’s Mom, I really do! (Especially because I washed the bejeezus out of the jacket and used a Netipot on my sinuses…) Guess I’m calling Kati tomorrow after church! Peace, Amy (although now I freaked myself out and I probably won’t sleep much. Such is the questionable wisdom of creating ghost stories before bedtime!)
October 25, 2014 at 11:10 pm
Quality work, per usual.
October 27, 2014 at 2:33 pm
Thanks, K. I sent you an email re: your blog! Miss you. Amy
October 26, 2014 at 12:30 am
It is well over 45 years since I’ve smoked. I fume a lot but that doesn’t count. The cigarettes I smoked in the UK were not available in Australia. Was I lucky! They killed my Dad but there, he couldn’t abide filtered. So it’s our choice, lungs or liver with heart thrown in both ways…well every which way really!
October 27, 2014 at 2:26 pm
It is the HARDEST addiction to kick. Harder than cocaine, and of course, totally legal. Glad you were able to quit, Robin. Sorry about your dad, truly. It’s an agonizing death, that.
October 26, 2014 at 2:44 am
Odours are very much a connection to memory. I cannot suggest where the smell of cigarette smoke is coming from but I do know that there are some scents that will always invoke the memory of my own departed mother and grandmother. I don’t believe in ghosts or messages from the great beyond but we are haunted nonetheless.
October 27, 2014 at 2:39 pm
I hear you, Kerry. Although I am what some would call a “sensitive,” (aware of presences, keenly chilled unexpectedly – until I find out that the chair I was sitting in was left to my friend by a neighbor who had a stroke!), that kind of thing. I do believe Mom was hinting, so I finally said aloud, three times in one day, “Mama, I love you, I hear you. I’ll figure it out. But your smoke is making me PUKE, OK?”
I am now blessedly “smokefree,” LOL. At least she listens! A
October 26, 2014 at 4:27 am
Smells haunt me too and drag up stories you would rather not remember…but writing it out is good…i hope you are well Amy and good luck at the doctors tomorrow xo
October 27, 2014 at 2:45 pm
Thanks. Doctor said “Nothing is wrong.” Now scroll up and read my response to Kerry and you’ll find out how I got rid of the smell!!!! Amy
November 1, 2014 at 7:13 am
Thank you Amy…I shall try and apply the same directness..hoping you are well xo
October 26, 2014 at 5:47 am
It’s a strange thing how smells linger as memories. Love to you, Amy, and I hope you’re keeping well. xx >
October 26, 2014 at 6:30 am
Yes, smells are powerful reminders. Lilacs are Binghamton, the nush right next to the house.
October 27, 2014 at 2:46 pm
Exactly the same in Apalachin. And the week my friend Mike’s mother died suddenly in a car accident… well, I will write a poem about it. But lilacs were key to bring a bit of cheer to her grieving husband. Peace, A
Björn Rudberg (brudberg)
October 26, 2014 at 6:35 am
I find it amazing how rare cigarette smoke is today you can really pinpoint it on someone today. I think it’s a smell I meet maximum once a week.. Luckily I have no eerie memories to tie it to.. Hope you get a good explanation – ghosts are usually harmless, but the come with a story that might be less so.
October 27, 2014 at 3:29 pm
Bjorn, living in a state-by-state regulated country, the US is quite literally all over the map on this. Some cities go against their home state and declare Clean Air For All within city limits. Some businesses tried to keep paying the fines… eventually going out of biz.
October 26, 2014 at 8:54 am
One eerie bit of info here Amelita! Apparently there may be ways of telepathic connection between living and the demised. One may not believe it but nothing like appeasing the ‘feelings’ with some form of meditation perhaps. Nice write!
October 31, 2014 at 7:27 pm
Thanks, Hank. I am not a “rigid” Christian, and I believe in the African tradition of elders being around to help and guide. I love the idea of Mama being close, but did she HAVE to pick smoke? Ha ha ha. Thanks, Amy
October 26, 2014 at 12:51 pm
I do believe in ghosts-and scents stimulate our memory! I smelled strong apple wood pipe tobacco one day for no reason and thought how odd. I have also had a few encounters-her visit made a cool poem! My parents smoked-one still does and I have second hand smoke issues in my lungs. It was discovered during pneumonia..I had five Navy docs come in one by one and say, “You smoke”-I didn’t never have! Sorry, Amy memories do haunt us and lingering scents, do too! I enjoyed your poem~ ((hugs))
October 26, 2014 at 3:14 pm
Oh wow…I actually think it could be her…my mom had a similar ting…smelling smoke in the new house that has never smoked in…think it may have been my grandmother.
You told this so well…I so enjoy your voice, Amy.
Thank you for your kind words around my poem…I agree, a gift from God. ♥ to you!
October 26, 2014 at 3:35 pm
hard not to forget or remember
October 26, 2014 at 4:30 pm
The sense of smell can be a strong trigger. Hope you find some peace about this experience.
Susie Clevenger (@wingsobutterfly)
October 26, 2014 at 6:40 pm
Scents are powerful. They can be the aroma of sweet memories or the vehicle of driving you to the precipice of a hell you wish you could forget. I had the weirdest dream about a stranger..It was so vivid, but when I woke up the scent of a perfume I don’t even own hung in the air. Take the best from the scent that lingers and don’t dwell on anything negative. Great write!
October 26, 2014 at 7:01 pm
Isn’t it odd? As if she ever told you how/what to do, and yet we consult them as if … It’s those smells, like echoes, as we wonder if we are becoming them … Your poem has got me going!
Sherry Blue Sky
October 26, 2014 at 11:46 pm
It is pretty cool when we sense they’re still around……I visited my cousin this summer – she and I were the two closest to my grandma, who had a zany sense of humor and loved practical jokes….well, my cousin had a basket of little trucks and things for her grandson sitting about and, at random moments, WITHOUT BEING TURNED ON, one of them kept making its siren sounds……..she kept turning it off, but after a while its siren would go off again. I thought it was so funny and was sure it was grandma…..and that she was cackling.
October 27, 2014 at 1:50 am
scent is memory, and you triggered something there – and here with us, your readers, with this. ~
October 27, 2014 at 4:39 am
Hope you are fine now.
They are our guardian angels.
Even I wrote a poem for my departed Mom recently…
October 27, 2014 at 1:25 pm
I love it when I smell something that triggers a wonderful memory like fresh mown hay, Cashmere Bouquet talcum powder, pipe smoke … Great writing, Amy!
October 28, 2014 at 7:00 am
Amy, I have missed you! I believe our loved ones, who have passeed on, do communicate with us from time to time. Your poem pulled me into that surreal place. Pleasantly. Hope that you got some sleep. Love and hugs ❤
October 28, 2014 at 7:10 pm
Hi Amy ~~ glad to see you here !!
I read your so true to life poem last Sunday morning, no other comments then. Mine didn’t take then and not a couple of times later, and this one might not either. Think for those I had wrong URL.
Favorite line for me was “clinging like a needy ex” both for the ‘clinging’ bit and the needy ex. It reminded me of the time when the cat got into my jacket and then peed. The jacket was suede leather and the smell wouldn’t wash off.
And the ex? We get along, just mostly don’t see each other. Saturday night our grand-daughter got married. That put us together on Grandparents’ Row, Mrs. Jim sat between us. She didn’t come by when they left. We may have been downstairs then in the picture taking booth? She doesn’t cling, never did. It didn’t help things when she gives away one of the cars.
October 31, 2014 at 11:18 pm
I feel people no longer here and sometimes know they are still here with me. My mom has been gone nearly seven years now and for me she is yet another angel keeping watch. She may well be telling you something and you have just got to put the pieces together. Take care my friend.
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