All These Different Flavors of Smells

Andrew Kozma

All These Different Flavors of Smells
Every age has its own patina on the tongue.
And the way the gloss of sunlight sugars the eye.
The years as they pass slough like rot.
It’s how citrus split open cuts me like a broken window.
How it whines a glass splinter. How once it goes in,
it’s invisible but for the bright sulfur point of pressure.
All this put into my mouth. All of this devoured
instead of savored. And, oh, the too brief flavors.
The caustic upper nasal bite of scraped skin.
The cinnamon tang of fresh blood. Burnt hair’s
lens flare. It is the riffling paper of youth
I remember as the rough burr of a lizard’s back.
Was it always? My nerves are honey and cream
dissolving into coffee. And the air I breathe
is burnt plastic, an expendable miracle.


Andrew Kozma’s poems have appeared in Blackbird, Redactions, and Contemporary Verse 2, while his fiction has been published in Lamplight, Daily Science Fiction, and Analog. His book of poems, City of Regret (Zone 3 Press, 2007), won the Zone 3 First Book Award, and his second book, Orphanotrophia, was published in 2021 by Cobalt Press.

Author’s Backstory and Comments: Many of my poems are about communication and its errors. In this case, I was thinking both about how impossible it is to know if any two people are experiencing the same sensation (What color is your red? How does your ketchup taste?) and how one would go about describing a sensation that is new to someone else. All imagery is disjunction, but images also need to be comprehensible in some way, so how do I create lines that are both foreign and (hopefully) familiar?

Editor’s Notes and Image Credit: Abstract art “Synesthesia” []

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