The mouth of darkness

I breathe, closing my eyes
listen to scents, memories
wrapped in urine-ammonia,
cabbage and chlorine
cigarettes, a fistful of blood
and testeroneous snicker.
school —
my face pressed into concrete
unyielding. the rain
as defenseless my tears
turn into marbles
knowing its cinders
build manhood in boys.

The Mouth of Darkness
Victor Hugo

Today we have a guest host, Jo at dVerse and she inspires us to write about scents and how it may evoke memories. I think that some of the strongest memories are unpleasant for many of us.

June 23, 2022

24 responses to “The mouth of darkness

  1. This is a traumatic experience and scents of urine-ammonia,
    cabbage and chlorine, cigarettes, a fistful of blood, are strong images. Unpleasant memories indeed specially growing up.

  2. Oh Björn, this is indeed dark. I’m not sure what is worse, the nasty smells of boyish bullying or the sweet-scented, spiteful girl bullying. At least, that’s how I remember it. I can’t say I love the phrase, but I think ‘testeroneous snicker’ is an expressive metaphor.

  3. This is incredibly hard-hitting and poignant, Bjorn. I agree with Misky, no one should be subjected to bullying while growing up.. sigh …

    • One of those that makes one go silent at first. So, so sorry it happened to you. The last line is devastating – it’s meaning layered. I do hope no adult told you that at the time.

      • My first comment landed in answer to Sanaa’s! Apologies! I wanted to add though, the tears that hardened to marbles: the metaphor of how you could’ve hardened to become what hurt you, but didn’t: it’s a choice often.

  4. One of the worst lies we tell ourselves is that it’s for our own good. The mind likes to rationalize away the most horrible bits. I remember the trigger in childhood of getting close enough to an adult to smell the alcohol reek. Lots of bad memories around that.

  5. Some survive better than others, thank God. Still, when the bullies get their comeuppance (as they so rarely do) it makes me jump for joy. Nice work, Bjorn. Thanks.

  6. Yeah, the scents are unkindly when your face is mashed to the concrete. I remember all of them too. And to think, those rank maces made men of us. (Or we became men to spite them …)

  7. Glad to read you again, Bjorn.
    The poem evokes unsettling memories; the imagery is strong fearful – wrapped sadly by the closing lines.

  8. Dear Bjorn, this was difficult to read, and masterfully conceived. As a mother of three sons, recalling how I worried about them as adolescents …I know your mother did as well. Some scents are hard to erase, yes.

  9. Swallowing us up in a yawning pit of sensate anguish — these words overpower not just our senses but our emotions with their immediacy.


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