Mind over Medium

Art, Literature, and Pseudo-Science

Tag: poetry

A Self Portrait in Scents

Today I read a slightly mocking article on Yahoo News about weird perfumes like char-broiled burger and new laptop. I ended up at the Demeter Perfume website, a magical fairyland I had not visited for a very long time. Demeter Perfumes specializes in unusual scents. Yahoo picked Play Doh as Demeter’s weirdest, but there are quite a few stranger than that– celery, clean windows, wine dregs and earthworm among them– that are more like a Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans challenge than what most would consider fine perfumes. They have some “normal” scents, too, like lavender and many different flowers, but it’s the strange scents that get the most attention…and entertaining reviews (for example Jess from Western MA who said “cannabis flower” smelled too much like flowers and not enough like pot).

I love smelling things; just ask anyone who’s ever gotten within a foot of me and they’ll tell you. When I meet someone, I lean in an give ’em a sniff because you can tell a lot about someone just by smell. Do they smell like bleach with a hint of citrus and soap? They are cleanly folks who like order. Do they smell like band-aids and grass. Soccer player. Every. Time. Do they stink like a wildebeest wallowing in musty brine? They don’t shower and probably couldn’t care less what you think of them or they just came from the gym and care way too much about what you think of them. All of that’s usually natural body odor or environmental leftovers. Humans use perfumes to change or mask those odors.

You can tell a lot about a person by the perfumes they choose. We expect bubbly blonds to like “girly” fruity and sugary smells, men to like “masculine” leather and musk, and old ladies to dab on enough florals to gag a bee. But what if you had every scent in the world available to you and you could bottle your memories, dreams, likes and dislikes? Demeter Perfumes is working on doing just that.

So I pulled a Severus Snape, distilling my personality into a series of essences that, unlike most art media, you can’t see, touch, or hear. It’s a self portrait in scents! If you could smell my soul it might smell like this:

A storm on the move over the mountains, clever puns, old silver, nights outside, inked paper and books, leather and whoop-ass, quiet thoughts alone, and (most importantly) tea in dainty china or unbelievably huge plastic cups.

Our brains record smell memories faster than almost any other. Have you ever walked by someone or something in the grocery store and suddenly had déjà vu, but you couldn’t pin down why? It’s probably because your nose picked up on a smell from long ago and it triggered a recall response, but since smells have no visual clues and humans are rather dependent on visuals for comprehension, you couldn’t “see” the memory in your head. It was just a scent on the air, a little puff of Febreeze at the back of your mind. Sometimes it is the small of red Kool Aid from a 4th birthday party or the detergent an old lover used to use. I had a friend who smelled her gramma’s chocolate chip pancakes everywhere she went. If smells affect our minds so powerfully, shouldn’t everyone strive to make sure it’s their true selves everyone is remembering and not some fake cologne we sprayed on because it’s “cool?”

(Axe, I’m looking at you. you make men smell gross. Stop it!)


Wednesday, near Sunset

Wednesday, near sunset

Sybil waited on the porch.
She always had bangs that fell over her eyes
Both the color of amber with matching freckles.
In the light, she was golden all over.
“Do you believe in poetry?” she asked.

Dapper smoke sizzled off her cigarette.
She stared into space as her lungs shriveled
Like the plums on her special tree,
Each pitted and black with hailstone rot.
A squirrel, as golden and sleek as Sybil herself,
Sniffed at the roots.

Sybil has nimble hands
Always full of rings.
And arrows.
She dropped the cigarette,
And lifted her bow in the same sweep.
Squirrel slumped halfway up the trunk,
Another rotten fruit on a feathered branch.
A dark splatter of blood curled in the gnarled bark.

“Look,” she pointed
“There’s no poetry in death.
It’s swift and dirty.
Life is no better.
The only place for poetry is in the space between them
When the arrow hangs in the air
Slowed to a pace and you can look it in the eye
Right before it hits you
And the lights go out.”

Losing Yourself

The door to the bedroom creaked open
Letting in a hot yellow stab of light.
The biting rattle of bullets
And crackled screams for retreat
Filtered in from the other side.
It was dark except for the spike of light through the jar.
A small glow from the round peep hole through the wood
Left a red-ringed shadow of the sunset above the dresser.
My clothes were thrown about the room
Casualties of looting for the last precious string of Art Deco
Beads from my grandmother’s youth.
Then I remember:
They were gone to Italy in a cardboard box
Sold to finance frivolous dreams of someone actually using them for prayer.
The antique rosary was probably parted out for money.
The sock it had been wrapped in was empty
Except for a scratched medallion of Saint Christopher.
He carried the Child over the river
Away from the bullets and the hot dust
To here, in the dark bottom drawer in Texas:
Cold rain-washed and full of flaky bark chips along some over-manicured road.
Where are they going,
They who came this far through the war and the rattling defeats
To be placed on a long chain around my neck?
I wear the medal close to my heart
It reminds me of where I was
And urges me onward, but it will not tell me where I am going
Besides here
On the torn feed-sack and rag quilt
Thinly shielding me from the chaos of rapid-fire failure.

– August 15, 2011


Shadows and dust blew through the cracks in the house,
A red and yellow and grey haze sifting over the people inside.
It refused to settle, but hung in the air.
We breathed it.
We ate it.
It was in everything, like God.
It stung and we bled from our noses, our mouths.
We could not escape the storm.
Gummed tape, wet rags, paper shades:
It was too late: building a levy after the floodwaters were at our necks,
But there was no rush, no water, no respite.
Only powder and heat, and hatefulness.
Someone grabbed a knife from the block counter
I think it was my brother
And he stabbed viciously at the air, screaming
“I hate you! I hate you! Get out of my house!”
The dust barely parted around the blade
He dropped the knife aside
It clattered on the floor and he hung his head.
You cannot kill the dust.
It was part of us now, like God.
There was no atheism for the dust, for it covers everything
And flies faster than cloud or bird.
It eats everything it comes to, consumes, strips the flesh.
We are its sacrifices.

– February, 2012

The Lamentations of a Thistle

Finding a picture stings
As though you had died.
Seeing them, I cannot touch you.
In many, I do not know you.
It is so different.
You are so happy.
Somehow my face begins to burn with shame
And I must look away.
It hurts like death,
But without the glory.
There is no acceptance of my mourning.
I am so hopeless and disgusting,
I must withdraw.
A vulgar thistle infecting a garden of roses.
No one speaks of me.
Nor offers me solace.
They only whisper in judgmental tones
Or remind me disdainfully that,
“Others have it worse”
Then they cut me off at the root,
Leaving my raggedy, unfinished flower
To burn in the sun.
Any seeds I had scattered are too young to survive.
While you, elsewhere,
Bloom without me,
The most celebrated in the garden
Blessed with brightness and unfettered by thorns
Treasured by the gardeners and revered by the passersby.
I sought to grow in your sight
And strove only to emulate your beauty.
It was beyond my meager ability.
I was only a weed in your glory.
A sad little shadow stealing your sustenance
And trying to hide my ignominy behind your grandeur.
I was never worthy to grow in such a garden–
Able, perhaps,
But never deserving.
Such a garden is only a dream,
A flower such as you: an esoteric angel.
I miss your petals,
The cool canopy of your leaves.
It is so harsh here on the sidewalk,
Barely able to murmur a scream:
“I blossomed under your shade,
When we were young, we spoke as equals.
Now I am grown.
They have cut me off at the root
And the sun burns me with his accusing gaze.
Who in the garden can help me?
You are too deep in the soil.”


– February, 2011

Fly : Annoying Poetry


How can I endure this blather
the raging fans wheezing and whining
I hate them all
and pity them too

Bottled flies
with grey bellies
I cannot free them
so shall they starve

Blenderize the heatless bodies
into a cocktail
you are what you eat
drink this and you will fly!

Feel the itty-bitty buds
sprout from your neck
your hands
your feet
This is not what you wanted

the wings flare up like glass panes
purple veins seething with crushed insect blood
you are flying
but it is not pretty

How can I endure the whine
of your flagellating wings
I despise you, fool,
and I pity you too

-EH (2007)

A Poetical Break

For Sappho and H.D.

“What is beauty to me?”

I envy you your androgyny
Your ability to shift
From one thing to another
As though you were nothing at all
Not less than a man
Nor greater than woman
Or more tasteful
Than the smell of singing violets

I envy you the ability to stand
Without poles or foundations
You float like clouds
Blending in the breeze
Its face is the strangest beautiful
And makes puzzles for passersby
By the almond of your eye
And the confusing fullness
Of your pillow lips

Adaptability is not the same
Flying with leather wings
Does not make me a bird
No matter how dark

I envy you your androgyny
An Adonis of Troy couldn’t
Be more seductive
And strange
You change independent
Need no one but itself
And its petal-hard reflection

I envy you the freedom
Of being neither nor the other
But still contain the cosmos
Like the ocean stuttering
Or the South wind blowing full
Of faraway spice and sour earth
While I am set like a stone on flat prairie
Grown up with grass
Forgotten by Sisyphus for his troubles


-Elizabeth Hayes 2011




Figural Poetry



Because Flowers Die…


Wrapped in soggy waxed tissue paper
Patterned in silver toile
Five blossoms and a sprig of something green
Two daisies spoked in white
Golden centers plush with garden dew
Forget-me-nots cluster in a posy
Blue and white                                                                                               
One crushed against another frantically
Eager faces peering out from beneath
A blazing poppy
On a long
The petals flared like the hem
Of a devil’s gown
Scarlet velvet speared with lemon
And a black-flocked moon between
A burgundy rose, edges crimped
The petals soft and cupped
Around the center of tangled knots
Hidden under these living silks
The broad-leafed green
And supple branch of belladonna curls
Blackened berries ripe
Peering eyes glowing in the night
The paper rustles in my hand
And flecks of silver paint
With a broken petal or two
As I present this flowery gift
To the poet
The muse
And scarlet-lettered

Hello world!

Yes. So I have preserved the original generic title in honor of catering to the masses that will no doubt fail to materialize. Hence, let us then continue in our pursuit of inanity and joy!

This blog will be my art showcase so that I can elaborate {mostly for my benefit} why I painted/drew/wrote/burned what I created. The images are also availble on Facebook so that you can peruse the rest of my creations at your leisure.