“What Walmart Smells Like”

walmart

Being forced through the automatic doors of a Walmart one evening last winter with my family, I decided to deconstruct the experience of the torture that is globalized shopping by paying close attention to the most potent, yet misunderstood of the five senses.

I hope you enjoy this post, as a break from my usual three- or four page-long ruminations on books and history. Sorry, if you find that the sterile colour scheme in the above photo clashes with my parchment paper background, which suggests the wonderful vanilla smell of old books … but I do this for the sake of poetry. After all, a few verses can help you notice things you’ve ignored before. All good art should renew one’s perspective of the mundane.

“What Walmart Smells Like” appeared in a McGill University campus journal The Veg last April. I am very proud of it, my first published poem.

I wrote most of the images, including others that did not make the cut, on a piece of packing cardboard I found lying in an aisle under a shelf at a Walmart store. I loved playing with the conflict inherent in trying to actually smell anything distinct in the vacuous space of the warehouse that Walmart really is. Vacuous in many senses, though here I focus on smell. Scents triggers memories and memories are our identity. What that could imply, I leave for you to figure out.


 

“What Walmart Smells Like”

 

Distant, watered-down.

Trouble.

 

A lonely coldness,

an empty chill.

 

Freezer coolant.

Your aunt’s strawberry scented candles. Your mom’s cookie dough.

Freezer coolant. Sweet bread, pastries, cinnamon buns

in the bakery, with carrot raisin

muffins,

 

croissants. McDonalds’ frying lipids cross

with carcinogenic smoke,

converging and stale

 

fructose;

Like when solid candies melt together,

or you spill a dead Sprite,

and one week later

your boots are still sticky

 

books, laminated,

smelling like bathrooms, baskets,

and cotton mats,

homely enough to carry some memory

beneath their fibre

 

optics. Electronics

out of bubble papered cardboard boxes.

Unwrapping acetate-cased silicon chips,

perfume of static

 

and cologne. Or dampness

under jackets, when they cross you

in the aisle.

Then a sharp soapy attack

in the cleansing section

 

sterilizes the senses

of the one who senses the sterilized.

 

 

Photo Credits:

Walmart: http://www.impowerable.com/protect-the-planet/how-mcdonalds-and-wal-mart-affect-your-food/

“I See You Too”

After years of trying, I have finally published a decent poem in one of the McGill campus literary journals! And, this is my first poem ever published, perfectly suited (by coincidence, actually) for the Valentine’s edition of Read this, Dammit!, the publication of the Paper’s Edge creative writing group. I really lucked out on this one!

The poem came to me when I conceived of a conceit that plays off Rene Descartes’ scepticism about whether or not the people around him are automatons. Through some non-linear thinking process, the thought, “What if a lover was afraid his beloved was an automaton?” announced itself. I also thought I’d try writing a poem inspired by John Donne’s conceits. Indeed, I allude to “The Ecstasy” in several of the stanzas. The Song of Solomon also provided inspiration.

Be aware of a pun in the title. Science nerds might get it.

Now, without any further ado:

 

“I See You Too”

 

Is this all our body,

             an illusion of love?

 

          In the pomegranate fields

                              of the eternal now,

                   by the banks of the swollen river,

                            our fingers intergraft,

         locking teeth.

 

          Are we two souls two gears,

closed systems

          touching hands?

Do fingers bend

          for integration of input?

Is your ankle, by my thigh,

          a rivet?

Are your legs plastic—or fiberglass—

          or your arm, a vise?

And this,

         is it just plumbing and pump,

        Tube A to Valve E?

 

Cords of synthetic sinew

          crisscross your face:

          do they pull together to please me,

or does a mind pull them, pleased?

 

CO2 is on your breath.

          Your body burning against mine:

a furnace grafting my carbon matter

           onto dancing atoms of       purity.

 

          O, O the illusion is truer!

Was he who created you clockmaker

          or lover?

 

Your eyes are two spheres:

          orbital intelligences

around the simulacrum

                  contained in your skin.

 

           I hear the symphonic magic.

          Focusing beyond you,

Both eyes form one,

become a clear window.

Image