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POEMS

AURA

By Perry Nicholas

Everything smelled of paint thinner,

to some degree, around my father

and our house. A foreign perfume,

or a man's spicy cologne.

It circulated down the driveway

from the beds of tired work trucks

to the can-full garage, through the yard,

never empty enough to play in.

There was a lone lilac bush

just on the other side of our fence,

begging me to breathe in her fragrance

every morning, but instead, I rose

before the others to inhale my father

as he loaded paint on the pickup

with one hand, pulled lovingly

on his non-filters with the other.

Cigarettes, paint fumes, and stale whiskey...

an intoxicating concoction of scents.

They followed him day and night,

and I respected his aura of thinner.

It hung everywhere in the air,

just as a father's force lingers

forever heavy in a man's life.

Strange how our jobs seep out

of us unnoticed, undetected

except to those who need us.

I wonder if I smell of lead pencils,

new paper, coffee, and chalk.

PERRY NICHOLAS will read from his work at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Empire State College, 2875 Union Road, Cheektowaga, as sponsored by the Empire State College/Erie Community College Reading Series. He is an English professor at Erie Community College North Campus, where he was awarded the 2008 SUNY Chancellor's Award for Scholarship and Creative Activities. Nicholas is the author of two chapbooks of poems and a full-length collection "The River of You" (Foot Hills Publishing, 2009). His forthcoming collection, "What the World Sees," will be published this fall by Saddle Road Press.

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