Charley & the Chocolate Factory

Sometimes I get a whiff of it,
something that takes me back in time.
I close my eyes and breathe it in.
Sometimes it’s so sublime.

But yesterday, I smelled a smell
that brought me to my knees.
I was back in the park, near the subway station
under chocolate covered trees.

Do you remember that time, in the park?
behind the factory?
That time when I thought I had lost you for good?
Thought you weren’t coming back to me?

Sometimes I get a whiff of it,
something that takes me right back,
and we’re staring down those trains again,
we’re standing on that track.

You ever smell it? Do you?
Something that brings you to that line,
and you wonder if you’ll be all right
or if this will be the time…

Sometimes I get a whiff of something,
that is so strong, and so good.
It takes me right back to better days
there in the neighborhood.

The bittersweet scent of August
when the evening air smells cool
brings me back 100 years,
back to when we were in school.

The boys smelled like raw onions
and the girls like Sweet Honesty.
The gymnasium smelled like dirty socks
and the librarian smelled like tea.

The cafeteria smelled like Salisbury steak
and spilt milk and mushy peas.
The bathroom smelled like cardboard and piss,
and the dumpster smelled like disease.

The halls smelled like industrial paint,
and the playground smelled like hot tar.
We’d sneak over that wrought iron fence and run,
but we never ran too far.

Sometimes I get a whiff of it,
something so good, and so strong.
Something that takes me right back there
to the place where I belong.

The black girls smelled like shea butter,
the boriquas, like fried plantains.
The old lady next door smelled like mothballs,
and her basement smelled like rain.

The Indian girls smelled like curry and
the Cubans smelled like beans.
The crazy German guy down the street
smelled like bitterness and mean.

We ran past his house so quickly.
It smelled like gunpowder and booze.
and no one on the block was surprised at all
when they heard the awful news.

That night we played manhunt on our bikes,
hiding behind trees and cars.
We pedaled and pedaled for hours and hours
but we never went too far.

My mom smelled just like cupcakes
and a starchy ironed crease.
My grandmother smelled like Chantilly
and her hugs smelled just like peace.

Your mom smelled like garlic and oil
and a wet brown paper bag.
I smelled just like a teenage boy
and you, smelled like a fag.

So your father smelled like anger,
resentment, failure, sin,
underneath stale cigar smoke,
Old Spice, tonic and gin.

Your family smelled like misery
and a complete loss of hope.
Mine smelled just like Pine Sol,
Tide and Ivory soap

My father smelled like hard work,
chocolate, menthol and hops.
He taught us how to drive a stick,
and how to smell the cops.

There was a vanilla air freshener
in my crappy old smoke filled car.
We drove and drove for hours and hours
but we never got very far.

We could smell the situation
and we learned to play the game.
We were certain we could smell danger
an hour before it came.

We could smell the adrenaline
when we got up to the edge.
We could almost smell the freedom
as we leaped off of that ledge.

The day he died you walked with me
through a house that smelled like bread.
My fingers smelled like copper
and the sitting room smelled like dread.

We stole all of the liquor
from his parents’ basement bar,
to take us away, somewhere, anywhere.
But we didn’t get very far.

The next few years smelled like brandy
cheap cigarettes and beer,
cherry blossoms, magnolias,
sugar, excitement and fear.

We sat in a room that smelled like skunkweed
and we called it paraquat.
It smelled of dirty laundry
and the things other people forgot.

Sometimes in the middle of a hot summer night
the air smelled heavy and thick,
and the sweetness filled our nostrils,
and we forgot that we were sick.

We ran toward the train tracks
that smelled like wood and stones and tar,
running away from the stench of it all.
We never got very far.

The air smelled like smoke and ash that time
I jumped right out onto the tracks.
I grabbed the rails, I heard the train,
and you pulled my dumb ass back.

The room smelled empty, antiseptic,
Like metal and porcelain,
like hours spent on hands and knees
scrubbing away the pain.

Like silence and medication
and psychedelic songs.
I thought I would get better someday.
But my thoughts, they smelled all wrong.

The years have passed us by now,
and look at where we are.
All this time and distance.
We never got very far.

Sometimes I get a whiff of it,
and it takes me back in time.
I close my eyes. I breathe it in.
Sometimes it’s so sublime.

But yesterday, I smelled a smell.
It brought me to my knees.
I was back in the park, near the subway station,
under chocolate covered trees.



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