At the Taylor Swift show in Pittsburgh
Most of the restrooms were reserved female
When I finally found a men’s room
It was near empty and very clean
As I pissed a pleasant tropical fragrance
Wafted around me in heady swirls.
It struck me the pains we take to mitigate
The foul, the ugly, the reeking, the distasteful
My own piss, via complex chemical reactions
With the lime green slab at the base
Was creating a Costa Rican fauna
Of sweet citrusy florality
It’s just piss, I thought
It’s just me and my own piss
I didn’t need this
Funeral home perfumes, deodorants and antiperspirants
The way we dab our upper lips with tincture of benzoin
In the OR for cases of Fournier’s gangrene.
Always sanitizing, erasing the olfactory evidences
Of waste and decay
Out of respect for the demands
Of civilizational decor.
Just before we got into town
We stopped at a run down gas station
With piss spattered metal seats
And the agitating churn of my stream
Stirred up an ammoniac stench
That watered my eyes.
A keen physician can sometimes
Make a snap diagnosis bedside
Based solely on the smell of a patient’s urine.
Odors are difficult to catalog
The words only have meaning
After the experience, like love.
Juniper. Jasmine. Lavender.
Petrichor. The smell of raucous sex.
Such overlap with taste.
Put your nose in places it doesn’t belong
Now your tongue.
Next thing you know you’re a dad
Your kids are getting too old
Your daughter’s scent begins to hint at unfamiliar flowers
But you’ll get used to it.
Add it to the catalog
Call it: Blossoms of Pittsburgh
Once, I got written up by a nurse
Who saw me sniffing the effluent
In a patient’s drain bulb
She said it seemed “weird and pervy”
But she was young and hadn’t yet learned
The difference between sour and bitter
To my great relief
The fluid smelled like stone.