The bite of cigarette smoke gently wafts past
threatening to close my throat,
just before a gentle rain starts to fall.

Smell of life
rising from the grey sky
as I sweep the dust out of my workshop.

A dog drags a woman along the sidewalk.

The boom-boom bass blasts from
a car racing down the street.

Sweet skunk aroma from the house next door
briefly intrudes before a leaf sails
past my door to the world.

My eyes drift upwards.
Trees bend as the wind
carries the burning past
to the east.

Dust, smoke, rain and fire
combine and rewrite
the stories we tell.

Stories are on my mind today. The narratives of our lives. How we tell them. When we tell them and who we tell them to. This year a new shared story is being written in to our collective conciseness. A powerful new story with measures of loss, fear, doubt, and hope.

In 2001 we added, “Where were you on 9/11.” I was at home, getting ready to go to work. I’d just cast my father’s ashes at sea while preparing to marry the love of my life. Back then I wondered how much can a person take in – how much change will we endure in a life time?

Nothing is static. Life is an unending parade of change. Just about the time you have a nice routine going – something changes. A birth. A death. An illness. A job loss. A new job … All conspire to push you into places you don’t want to go.

The more we fight to keep things the same, the more change is thrust at us.

The only constant is that we have stories to tell.

Stories of how we faced the inevitable change.

At the end of the world, the only currency that will remain will be the stories we tell, and are told about us.

What story are you writing with your life?

About Andrew Reynolds

Born in California Did the school thing studying electronics, computers, release engineering and literary criticism. I worked in the high tech world doing software release engineering and am now retired. Then I got prostate cancer. Now I am a blogger and work in my wood shop doing scroll saw work and marquetry.
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17 Responses to Smoke

  1. Well said, Andrew. The common elements of all the stories bind us together; and the differences make each story unique and interesting. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Judith says:

    I admire your ability to take everyday, commonplace, mundane things and weave them into something fresh and original.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Baydreamer says:

    Lovely poem, Andrew, and I just posted a story from my past today. 🙂 It’s fun to walk down memory lane now and then…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Christi says:

    I’ve been working on a story of my own, even as this story unfolds. It’s interesting how they impact our lives. Their influence can be profound.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Stories are the best history, Andrew. Beautiful poem.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I enjoyed this poem, Andrew. Very descriptive of life in general. I am trying to be positive and use this lock down time effectively and efficiently. I seem to have less time now than before as my work load has increased due to more distressed clients. My mom said yesterday she was glad she was locked down with me as I am never depressed or demotivated. That was nice to hear.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. lifelessons says:

    I took the sweet skunk smell to be your neighbors imbibing. All you say is true.. couldn’t agree more.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ray V. says:

    This evening, I’ve been having an online conversation with a friend on the topic of how different our stories will be verses what we thought they would be and the questions and frustrations that causes.

    Aside from that, is “sweet skunk aroma” literal or a metaphor for something?

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is interesting how stories change and evolve. The aroma – I have a neighbor who likes to light up and the odor drifts over the fence, like the cigarette smoke drifts up from walkers passing by on the sidewalk. But they are also both metaphors whose interpretation is endless …


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