When a friend of mine returned from Vietnam, he went back to the factory where he’d worked before being drafted. After his first day back on the job, he locked himself in his bedroom. His mother knocked and asked if he wanted some dinner. There was no answer. She thought he was taking a nap. Minutes later she heard the shot.

— Antler

 

The Puberty Of Smell
If the second before pulling the trigger you remember me,
                  remember me smelling lilacs,
How every time smelling lilacs I remember
The time my mescalined olfactory system
                  caught on the early morning breeze 
                  the full-blossomed and blossoming lilacs 
                                     at Big Smoky Falls,
How my nose approached like a boy
                  discovering his cock feels so good
                  he can’t help crying out,
How circling the tree at nose level
                  caressing with my nose
                  those purple clouds of fragrance 
I experienced where I smell inside my skull
                  above my mouth and under my eyes
                                    in the very center
                  my nose’s first orgasm,
Not caring if anyone saw my abandon —
Though no one was there, no one but birds
                  and songs the sun rises in them
                                    and the falls and the song of the falls
                  and the song of mosquitoes
                                    I gave my blood to with joy —
And even if I didn’t think then
                  of the scent between pubescent legs,
Or remember my boyhood cock no longer exists
                   to caress breasts of early morning dreams,
I saw them opening,
                   all opening and opening themselves
And glowing in the sun’s first rays,
                   lifting themselves to the sun
                   in the just-felt breeze
As if they’d waited,
As if everything in the Universe had waited
Till I came, till I could smell them opening,
                  my nose caressed by those blossoms, those lilacs, 
                  those clusters of fragrance and the living color
                                    called purple,
As I opened and closed my eyes with my breathing,
Every so often remembering where I was, 
Remembering I had a face and that face had a nose —
                  for didn’t it seem to me then
                  all I was was that smell? 

Jim —
Even if you’ve already killed yourself, 
When the time comes you have my name and I have yours,
                  write this for me,
Or when next you’re about to pull the trigger,
Remember in that second before you discover
                  if you can hear the shot
That for a few grains of the hourglass
                  this was me —
That I too had no choice, 
                  drawn by the smell irresistible,
My nose approaching like the lover
                  who believes no one on earth can love
                                    more passionately —
Remember me then smelling so hard
As if I were the first to aroma
                   this peculiar translation of corpses,
As if I were the first to make love to lilacs,
As if I were entering strange houses of early morning
                   drawn toward sleeping boys to hold lilac sprigs
                   to nostrils of their dreams,
As if I’d discovered the answer
                   to all the questions the Universe inside my skull
                   could ask.
And so, in the second before you blow out your brain,
                  when you look into the gun and feel
                                   where the hole in your head will be,
Remember you were immortal before you were born,
                  that even before this poem
                                   your suicide must be fragrant as lilacs,
And always remember in that morning the color of lilacs,
How I smelled them till I could smell them no more,
                  withdrawing, fulfilled and wondering
If you went to those lilacs at Big Smoky Falls
                  you’d be surprised they had no smell
                  because I must’ve inhaled it all,
Wondering if I’d smelled those purple clouds so well
                  if you inhaled from my nose
                  you could smell them now.