The smell of that stuff
they use to wash the water clean
it gets up your nose
when tired from swimming

Me and my friend
he teaches me all these things
Like how to keep a secret

It’s a drink inside a flask
you don’t tell, even if they ask
and I never said no
but I never said yes

Why does everything here
smell clean
but me…

Busy bare ankles glimpsed
In the gap below the cubicle door
I never thought I wasn’t ready
I’d never thought about it before

Only how many lengths I could swim
another one, another one, before back to him
It’s a silence I struggle to keep
but who would want to listen

Why does everything here
smell clean
but me…

Three decades on
so much distance in my heart
and all those failed moments gone by
all those loves that fall apart

I’m still free when I swim
I rarely think of it now
he was no friend to me
Finally, I learned what it was
I learned it had a name



Thanks for reading this rather bleak poem.

I felt like a bit of an imposter writing this one, as I have no experience of the subject matter. But I thought perhaps it might speak to others.

All my poems.

Published by

Tom Alexander

"Art is a lie that tells the truth"

9 thoughts on “Chlorine”

      1. I absolutely do and I think you are incredibly brave and talented to not only attempt it, but also do it so very well. I am taking notes over here. The ability to approach sensitive topics and write the words/stories others may not be able to is a gift 👏


  1. That second stanza: masterful! And then from here to the end (WOW!): “Why does everything here /smell clean / but me…” Wonderful way of using chlorine for a deeper dive into humanity. Exciting work as always by you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Benjamin. I walked past a hotel and smelled the chlorine from the swimming pool vents and somehow this dark poem was inspired. Strange the way these things happen. Not sure a smell has inspired me to write a poem before! 👃🏼 How about you?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome. That’s interesting. The senses all should be used in writing. I guess smell is one of the most powerful. I did use smell once before in a prose poem. It was “My Philosophy of Smell” and I smelled fruits and tried to decide how that smells in a poetic way. It’s an interesting exercise because I think nobody smells things the same way. So basically you smell an apple and say what it smells like. Like I would say something like watermelon smells of second chances. Well, that’s cool how the inspiration came about it. It really is true that we can get inspired by everything!


    1. Thanks Charmer ♥ I was a bit nervous about posting this one in case I accidentally offended anyone who might have an experience of this type; but writing it left me feeling intensely sad so I thought there must be some kind of truth to it. Thanks for reading! 🙏🏼

      Liked by 1 person

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