Skip to content

A Sense of Place: CITY SIDEWALK – smell



A Sense of Place

In his essay ‘So:ba’, given at the International Haiku Conference (SUNY Plattsburgh, NY, 2008) and published serially in Frogpond, Jim Kacian discusses the concept of ba:

“If you look up ba in any Japanese-English Dictionary you’ll find it means “place” or “site” or “occasion”. And these are all true in the most general sense—ba is a pointer to a kind of awareness that something of importance is happening in time and space.”

So here we are…

In the following weeks we will get back to haiku basics and explore specific locations with an emphasis on the senses, and with the intention of improving our own haiku practice. Ideally, participants will select an actual location that they can visit, or a location from memory that they have visited in the past. Failing that, we always have our imaginations – and you’re invited to join in the fun! Submit an original unpublished poem (or poems) via our Contact Form by Sunday midnight on the theme of the week, including your name as you would like it to appear, and place of residence. I will select from these for the column, and add commentary.


next week’s theme:  CITY SIDEWALK – taste

We remain on city sidewalks – if possible, the same one as in previous weeks – but now we explore the sense of taste… the deadline for this theme is midnight Pacific Time, Sunday 16 December 2018.
I look forward to reading your submissions.


A Sense of Place:  CITY SIDEWALK – smell

spring in the air
from a sidewalk laundromat

Ingrid Baluchi
Ohrid, Macedonia

Some will argue that the makers of various air fresheners and laundry cleaning products actually do not know what spring smells like…


Christmas streets
slowing down near
the chestnut vendor

Lucy Whitehead
Essex, UK

There are many chestnut vendors on the streets if this blog is any indication – not so much in Whitehorse, though – in this poem, the reader is not sure if any purchases are made, only that on Christmas streets, one might choose to linger there…


city sidewalk –
the scent of peppermint gum
on my shoe

Michael H. Lester
Los Angeles CA USA

Another example of an event common to many of us, yet here both the theme of location and the sense of smell are brought together without effort, and again, without judgment…


block party
the canine officer
on patrol

Pat Davis
Pembroke, NH

Here the sense of smell is taken a little further – the themes are not specifically mentioned, so there is something here for the reader to figure out – and the result, as in all good haiku, is worth it!


Here are the rest of my selections for this week:

late night walk
the lingering scent
of a burning cooker

Adjei Agyei-Baah


Pavlov’s dog the restaurant’s window

Adrian Bouter


winter ends
the smell of sidewalk

Agus Maulana Sunjaya
Tangerang, Indonesia


sidewalk waltz
the aroma of rain
and coffee

Alan Summers


West Village garden
closed for renovations
smelling of urine

Amy Losak


passing on foot –
the smell of pizza
on the tables

passando a piedi –
l’odore della pizza
sui tavolini

Angela Giordano


alley to the sea
smell of algae
in the moist air

Angiola Inglese


sidewalk carts
fajita smoke drifts
from the plaza

Ann K. Schwader


deep winter –
the smell of spring rolls
in China town

Anna Maria Domburg-Sancristoforo


red light
a familiar fragrance
near the street lamp

Anthony Rabang


masala chai
in an alien street
a whiff of home

arvinder kaur
Chandigarh, India


hotdog vendor
I order a chili-dog
with onions

Barbara Tate


sidewalk traffic
scent of roasted corn
holds a crowd

Blessed Ayeyame
Ughelli, Nigeria


old Saigon –
smell of fish, lust
exhaust and fear

Bob Whitmire
Round Pond, Maine


rush hour
a whiff of my perfume
walks by

Bona Santos


trying on
another’s airs
perfume cart

C.R. Harper


city street
waving goodbye inside
the bus exhaust

Carol Raisfeld


chainsaw juggler
Venice Beach boardwalk
spectators smell blood

Charles Harmon
Los Angeles, California, USA


barefoot monks
the flow of amber incense
down temple walk

Christina Chin
Kuching, Sarawak


at the bus stop
her subtle scent

Christina Pecoraro


a cat
tracking a rat
city sidewalk

Christina Sng


Paris in smoke
above the pavement
Gauloises hover…

(Gauloises:  pungent French cigarettes)

Christine Eales


holiday décor
cinnamon scents
most stores

Claire Vogel Camargo


narrow streets
the sudden embrace
of honeysuckle

Debbi Antebi
London, UK


I close city eyes
and smell the forest
Christmas tree lot

Deborah P Kolodji
Temple City, California


early morning
down a street
dumpster diving

Devin Harrison


scents wafting
from several food carts
today’s pick – pizza

dianne moritz


stinging nostrils
the cold that makes
stars cry

Erin Castaldi


walking on the sidewalk
the smell of a warm soup
brings me home

Eufemia Griffo


Washington Square
a Sunday stroll
with high society

Garry Eaton


bless the neighbor
who plants roses
by the curb

(I planted roses right next to the sidewalk. It is a joy to look out my writing window and see joggers and dog walkers and just walkers stop and smell the roses.)

Genie Nakano
Gardena, CA USA


cold wind –
the narrow alley
smells of focaccia

Giovanna Restuccia


solo una strada e ridere di niente:
profumo di baci

just a road and laugh at nothing:
perfume of kisses

Giuliana Ravaglia


of a drinking song
from my neighborhood pub

Greer Woodward
Waimea, HI


Delhi dawn
the steam of cow pats
and chai

Hazel Hall


inner city street
the dog sniffs
every shadow

Hifsa Ashraf


teriyaki chicken
I follow my nose

Isabel Caves
Auckland, New Zealand


on the sidewalk
the scent of rain
and childhood memories

Jackie Chou
Pico Rivera, CA, USA


at King Street
a spicy aroma
my pulse rises

janice munro


paperboy hawks
the sweet smell
of mendacity

Joan Barrett
Whitesboro, NY


passing a queue
just a whiff
of mothers perfume

Joanne van Helvoort


weekend sidewalk –
the smell of brunch
and spilt beer

John S Green
Bellingham, WA


bus stop –
the smell of popcorn
around the square

Julia Guzmán


stick figures
in the rain
the scent of chalk

Kath Abela Wilson


Bustling sidewalk
I smell before I see
Mounted police

Kimberly Spring
Lakewood, Ohio


walking behind
a man with a cigarette
my every breath a drag

Laurie Greer
Washington DC


the smell of weed
on the sidewalk

Lori Zajkowski


waiting in the rain
a matted mutt fills the street
with despair

m. shane pruett
salem, OR, USA


Xmas window shopping
a collision of perfumes
swirl past

Madhuri Pillai


what’s that? Oh!  Gag me!
black and white carcass
in the gutter

Marcyn Del Clements
Claremont, CA, USA


the pot shop door opens memories

Margaret Walker


popcorn smells
greeting me
every corner I turn

Margo Williams
Stayton, Oregon


city sidewalk –
even the spring breeze
smells of smog

Maria Teresa Piras


Christmas stalls –
sidewalk smells
of traffic and donuts

Maria Teresa Sisti


poodle caca
with a hint of teargas
Paris laneway

Marietta McGregor


city tour
following a dog walker
the guide’s misstep

Marilyn Ashbaugh
Edwardsburg, Michigan


smell of urine –
foul words written
on the shop shutter

Marina Bellini


street corner
the peppermint taint
of a passing cloud

Mark Gilbert


city sidewalk
the musk of leaves
in the gutter

Martha Magenta
England, UK


on crowded concrete –
a sudden forest
of fresh cut fir

MaryEllen Gambutti
Sarasota, FL


scent of the white magnolia
in front of my house

Megumi Shibuya


From the sidewalk –
the smell of fresh tar
on the road

michael ceraolo
South Euclid, Ohio


Bourbon Street
the smell of Mardi Gras
washed off the walk

Michael Henry Lee


bus stop spliffs sweet whiff

Mike Gallagher
Listowel, Ireland


petrichor emanates
from the city sidewalks
clouds pregnant with rain

Mike Stinson
Omaha, Nebraska


overnight rain –
the overflowing gutter
greets my nose

Mohammad Azim Khan


rush hour
the bus belches
diesel fumes

Nancy Brady
Huron, Ohio


morning walk
recognize garlic
on her bread

Neni Rusliana


morning stroll
the same smell of fresh croissants
sidewalk hawker

nuky kristijono


first snowflakes…
at the corner of the street
roasted chestnuts

Olivier Schopfer
Geneva, Switzerland


the day’s first coffee
sidewalk cafe

Pauline O’Carolan


cheap after-shave smoking on the corner

Philip Whitley


ten pounds to go
wafts of souvlaki drift
from the café

Pris Campbell


street market
flooding the city
with festive scents

Rachel Sutcliffe


pre dawn walk
coffee  aroma
all around

Radhamani  sarma


tacky sidewalk lighting
the candy floss smell
on my daughter’s cheeks

Radostina Dragostinova


sidewalk to the beach
a fence row
of white roses

Randy Brooks


sidewalk creeper
the smells of hometown
in the crushed jasmine

Rashmi Vesa


each block
scent of a different country
walking down Broadway

Rehn Kovacic


scent of myrrh
in the streetside manger
a homeless man

Roberta Beary
County Mayo, Ireland


even in rosy moonlight
i know –
eucalyptus leaves

robyn brooks


street grate breathes
rumble from late trains
whiff of nightsweats

ron scully


city bakery
unplanned detour
to the office

Ronald K. Craig
Batavia, OH  USA


autumn –
smell of roast chestnuts
along the streets

Rosa Maria Di Salvatore


street food aromas
no translation

Ruth Powell


leaving yoga class
I take a deep inhale
sidewalk sewer grate

Sari Grandstaff
Saugerties, NY, USA


corner pastry store
pre-christmas air
with vanilla scent

Serhiy Shpychenko
Kyiv, UA


New Delhi sidewalks
the fragrance of curries
too weak to walk on

shandon land


leaving the office
smell of the late edition
of newspaper

Slobodan Pupovac
Zagreb, Croatia


city café
in the coffee cup smell
the ripples between us

Stephen A. Peters


outside the rehab
first steps with his walker –
the smell of victory

Susan Rogers
Los Angeles, CA, USA


tropical stir
the scents of laundry
bend my bead door

Tad Wojnicki


wet asphalt
and cheap whiskey
the smell of shattered dreams

Terri French


first time in the city –
a stranger cloaked
in mom’s perfume

Tia Haynes
Lakewood, Ohio, USA


her perfume…
follows her footsteps
in the crowd

Tomislav Maretic


a back alley
from the bar doorway
yakitori smoke

(Yakitori are grilled fowl skewers. Yakitori are commonly cooked over charcoal fire. (Japanese style))

Tomoko Nakata
Kanagawa, Japan


sidewalk stalls
crowd festival
aroma menu

Trilla Pando
Houston, Texas


chilly day…
the warm aroma from the
sidewalk bakery

Tsanka Shishkova


a passerby –
her smile surrounded
by perfume

Valentina Ranaldi-Adams
Fairlawn, Ohio USA


postfight walk
my tummy grumbles
near a bakery

Vandana Parashar


rush hour
a smell of roasted chestnuts
changes my plans

Vessislava Savova


sidewalk kiosk
exhaust fumes failing to mar
aroma of coffee

Vishnu Kapoor


Katherine Munro lives in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, and publishes under the name kjmunro. She is Membership Secretary for Haiku Canada and an Associate Member of the League of Canadian Poets. She recently co-edited an anthology of crime-themed haiku called Body of Evidence: a collection of killer ’ku.


This Post Has 23 Comments

  1. walking for miles
    through dark city streets
    my anger cools down

    Pamela A. Babusci
    Rochester, NY USA

  2. thanks to all the poets once again – & to Charles, Garry, Nancy, S. Radhamani, Ingrid, Margo, Valentina, Tad, MaryEllen, Janice, Trilla, Sari, Margaret, Rehn, Christina, Pat, Mike, Rashmi, Erin, & Jackie for your comments here – as I have said many times, I couldn’t do this without you!

  3. Every one of these poems an evocative sidewalk impression.
    Here are only a few of my favorites:

    Terri French – ‘wet asphalt’ ;
    Susan Rogers – ‘outside the rehab’ ;
    shandon land – ‘New Delhi sidewalks’ ;
    Serhiy Shpychenko – ‘corner pastry store’ ;
    Radostina Dragostinova – ‘tacky sidewalk lighting’ ;
    Pris Campbell – ‘ten pounds to go’ ;
    Michael H. Lester – ‘city sidewalk-’ ;
    Philip Whitley – ‘cheap aftershave
    Adrian Bouter – ‘Pavlov’s dog’
    Debbi Antebi – ‘narrow streets’
    Michael Henry Lee – ‘Bourbon Street
    Erin Castaldi – ‘stinging nostrils
    Greer Woodward – ‘smell/of a drinking song
    Mohammad Azim Khan – ‘overnight rain-‘
    Roberta Beary – ‘scent of myrrh’

  4. Hi kJ,
    Thanks for including my haiku along with the work of so many wonderful poets.
    Congratulations to all!!

  5. Thank you Kathy for the selection and insights.There is a whole array of ‘smells’ to discern in the walk out of home now and one cannot be vigilant enough !

    Some poems which stood out were,

    her perfume…
    follows her footsteps
    in the crowd
    Tomislav Maretic

    The third line is a surprise, juxtaposed well, ‘in the crowd’ ,possibly someone so wrapped in herself that she ‘s aloof and stands out.Or someone so fastidious about her appearance that she has a regimen she faithfully adheres to irrespective of the ecosystem.

    first time in the city –
    a stranger cloaked
    in mom’s perfume
    Tia Haynes

    How we long for and look for the familiar in a new place, and seek comfort even in random ,remote connects.

  6. Thank you, kj, for including my haiku again. My favourites this week:
    I liked the rhythm of

    barefoot monks
    the flow of amber incense
    down temple walk

    Christina Chin
    Kuching, Sarawak

    I was reminded of the bustle and aromas of street markets in London by:

    street market
    flooding the city
    with festive scents
    Rachel Sutcliffe

  7. Hi Kathy, Thanks for your comments about my “block party” poem! I’d like to highlight these poems: Kathabela Wilson’s “stick figures” ku brought back memories of writing on the sidewalk. Chalk does have a scent all its own! This poem mentions rain mixing with it, which could also suggest another unseen scent under the chalk drawings- being that sidewalks are not very clean. Michael H. Lester’s “peppermint” made me remember the times I arrived home with the smell of something stuck to my shoe – including gum! Madhuri Pillai’s “Xmas window shopping” ku made me think of how strong some perfumes are, and that colliding with people wearing even a dab is enough to create a “collision” of scents, and a telling facial expression!

  8. Thanks, Kathy, and poets for the this week’s mix of
    scents, smells, perfumes and aromas.
    Loved the combination of scents in
    old Saigon –
    smell of fish, lust
    exhaust and fear…….. ( by Bob Whitmire).
    Given Paris riots, found sad and powerful both
    Paris in smoke
    above the pavement
    Gauloises hover…. ( by Christine Eales) and
    poodle caca
    with a hint of teargas
    Paris laneway …. ( by Marietta McGregor).
    Was instantly transported from city to woods in both
    I close city eyes
    and smell the forest
    Christmas tree lot……. ( by Deborah P Kolodji) and
    on crowded concrete –
    a sudden forest
    of fresh cut fir………. ( by MaryEllen Gambuti)
    “the cold that makes / stars cry” — poetic and potent in
    stinging nostrils
    the cold that makes
    stars cry………. ( by Erin Castaldi).
    Margaret Walker’s marvelous one-liner speaks volumes
    the pot shop door opens memories
    Enjoyed the true and well-wrought
    each block
    scent of a different country
    walking down Broadway………(by Rehn Kovacic);
    Bourbon Street
    the smell of Mardi Gras
    washed off the walk………… (by Michael Lee) and
    New Delhi sidewalks
    the fragrance of curries
    too weak to walk on……….(by shandon land).

  9. Thank you Kathy for including one of my haiku here. Many interesting sidewalk scents here. I too appreciated Laurie Greer’s as that happened to me yesterday while out holiday shopping.

  10. I’m leaving for my morning walk–my nose can’t wait after reading this collection. We’re going hunting.

  11. A stunning collection of aromas. Thank you all! It is winter here in Ontario so I’ve noticed lately how certain scents are hard to detect in cold, dry air. I enjoyed Agus Sunjaya’s observation of what happens when winter ends:
    winter ends
    the smell of sidewalk

  12. Thank you Kathy, for your work on this feature, and for again publishing a poem of mine. Congratulations to all!

  13. Hi, Katherine,

    Congratulations on your “smell haiku” collection, I love it, especially that you’re now moving to the haiku promoting other senses. Are you preparing a book on “sensual” haiku?

    Where can I purchase your BODY OF EVIDENCE collection? I couldn’t find it on

    Have a cool day,

    Tad Wojnicki

    1. Thanks for this, Tad – we are in discussions about a possible book… but nothing decided yet… in the meantime, I will email you with details about purchasing Body of Evidence – thanks so much!

  14. Kathy thank you for including my haiku among the many! Again it amazes me the sidewalks that evoke such smells from coffee, popcorn, bakeries and other edibles to more pungent smells of urine, exhaust, smoke and bar smells as well as perfumes, laundromat smells and more.
    I feel like I have visited different city streets with various scents of smell. Thank you again. I look forward to re-reading these verses again and again today!

  15. What a lovely surprise! Thank you, kj, for highlighting my poem. And yes, I agree with your comment. Lily-of-the-valley and other scents may not be everyone’s idea of spring.
    Of concern, too, is artificial fragrances are often a brew of toxic chemicals that harm personal, public and environmental health. Open the windows! Hang your washing out on a line — those who can. There’s a good reason why Scandinavians like to put their babies out to sleep in prams, even in deep winter….
    But then we’re not all living in safe environments, nor so lucky to be able to fill our lungs with truly fresh air.
    A case in point, Laurie Greer’s:
    walking behind
    a man with a cigarette
    my every breath a drag

  16. Another scent-sational collection from the city streets, KJ. Across the globe, unique smells define our cities.

    Thanks for including one of mine. Now to return and sniff out them all.

  17. Lots of good words today. In Garry Eaton’s “high society” I remember drug dealers crowding the square nights, asking , “Smoke? Smoke?” Probably half of them undercover officers. Sunday mornings perhaps a different story, “Puttin’ on the ritz.”

    1. Thanks for commmenting Charles. Washington Square in Manhattan was once, during the so-called Gilded Age, the center of fashionable New York society, and it had the honour of providing the title for an important novel by Henry James. During the time I lived nearby, in the early 60s, it had descended in importance, and become a meeting place for counter culture forces, including a fairly open use of marijuana. Charles has seen part of what I was going for in ‘high society’, which, of course, is an ambiguous appelation by which I contrast the present scene with the past.

Comments are closed.

Back To Top