the smell of memory
by David LaBounty

my father
from the
time before,

before he left
my mother,
before he left
my brother and me.

I sat in the back
seat of his ’71
Lincoln Town Car
driving through
the summer of
1975 with the
air conditioning
full blast while
my father in

youthful ritual

cleaned his ears
with the tip of
a match before
lighting his
cigarette, before

the cigarette
smoke merged with
the stale recycled
air to form that
uniquely American
smell of blowing
refrigerant and
exhaled smoke.

I still

                what a good man

my father was.


David LaBounty’s recent prose and poetry have appeared in
Night Train, the New Plains Review, Pank, and other journals.  
His third novel,
Affluenza, was published in 2009.  LaBounty
lives in suburban Detroit with his wife and two young sons.

On “the smell of memory”:
I remember, as a child, being fascinated with the mannerisms
of the adult men in my life; as the way they moved and carried
themselves offered a glimpse to my future, a glimpse of what
sort of man I would become.

I can tell you that I don’t smoke, but I do put things in my ears.

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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 4, Number 2
(Fall 2009)

Copyright © 2009
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.