The old determined barnacles

cling to the pilings like little habits

to the soul of one who cannot let go

of the foolish distractions of youth


A boy once saw a sailor smoking

a cigarette out on the deck of a ship 

Although he was a Japanese sailor

the brand of tobacco was Peace


And downwind the boy caught

the scent of the sweet acrid smoke

Sixty years later he still remembers

that scent & face of the seaman


In the galley they kept a round tin

of the smokes available for the men

Fifty in a tin & a new tin replaced it

whenever it was empty One time


an officer gave the boy an empty tin

He hid it & when no one was around

he would take off the lid & smell inside

the lingering tang of forbidden fruit


No surprise his mother found it

‘There’ll be no Peace in this house!’

She was more right than she realized

Righteousness being her barnacle


About Peter Notehelfer

I'm a retired people person who now finds the time to watch the little details of the world without worrying about being watched by anyone . . . I live on an Island north of Seattle with my wife named Ellen, a yellow dog named McGee, a yellow cat named Gatzby, and four fine chickens . . . I read fiction, bake bread, smoke salmon, and fish whenever the weather allows . . . Oh, and yes, I try to write a poem every day simply to avoid senility!
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6 Responses to Peace

  1. I love that image of clinging to habits, it becomes very tactile with the rest of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. SalvaVenia says:

    A fine and nice story told tellingly.


    • Thank you for sharing a boy’s curiosity about the exotic scent of things . . . A white Russian woman I knew in Japan encouraged her 8 year old boys to smoke because she liked the smell of the tobacco around the house . . . Her husband had been killed in Siberia . . .


  3. I smoked a pipe for many years because it was ‘acceptable’ while cigarettes were considered vulgar . . . It is a ‘barnacle’ that has clung for many many years . . . My father’s brother smoked hard black German cigars . . . Must be in the blood . . .


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