Ten Today

he remembered
the smell of running feet
on cold stony ground,
his little ones behind hers,
the smell of death
as it dropped
from the sky,
wrapped in screams and blood,
the smell of pain
as she held him,
his arm still in a sling,
whimpering louder
so she would draw him close;

you are ten today,
the lady with the kind eyes said,
and his gift was such a big box
covered in blue paper,
he remembered
the smell of hammered nails,
as they carried away the coffins,
one by one,
the smell of hunger
as it wrote its unspoken name
on empty faces
and distended tent walls;

the lady with the kind eyes smiled,
told him to blow out the candles,
he held a knife in his hand
and remembered the smell of wheels
as the strange man
drove him away in a jeep,
the smell of her absence,
as he lay awake
night after night,
reaching for her hand,
and the guns never stopped firing;

he hugged her,
the lady with the kind eyes,
happy birthday,
she whispered in his ear,
as strangers sang and clapped,
and he sniffed and sniffed
through the blur of old tears,
but he knew
this smell was different.


For the Poets United midweek prompt “Birthdays”

29 thoughts on “Ten Today

    1. Thanks so much Lynn… as long as we have people living in tents and camps, displaced from their homes, children born stateless…this will remain a lopsided, unhappy world. Sadly.


  1. What a powerful poem – to re-learn the smell and feeling of love is so very hard – thankfully there will always be people who offer us kind eyes..and hope for our return


  2. How important it is to write this way as most of the world is unaware of life within a conflict zone where so little of life can be lived normally or with safety, choice and waste of unaffected nations.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, yours is a particularly wise poem, as it reminds us that everyone has a birthday and the world doesn’t stop for them. Makes me remember that there are thousands of 15 year olds who were born on September 11, 2001. Thanks for the thought provoking poem.


  4. Smells, whether sweet or not, awaken so many emotions in us. I particularly like the line about the smell of absence…


  5. Ah yes there are birthdays we crave for the candles and cake. And then there are the birthdays others not by choice will have to endure

    A stark reality poem Thotpourge

    Much love…


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