Stinky Cheese by Jan Ball

Stinky Cheese

by Jan Ball

Harrods by London tube
in search of stinky cheese,
down the escalator
with the new Chihuly
chandelier, and she is
in front of a cheese case
as long as a ship.

She can see little tags of origin
on cheeses from Italy, Spain,
France, Iceland and Switzerland,
but she came here for a stinky
cheese, wherever it originates.

When her number is called
by the fromager, his Alfred
Hitchcock butler’s voice
intimidates her so much
that, instead of asking
for a stinky cheese, she uses
her Princess Diana sophistication
to intone, “Is that yellow cheese
by any chance piquant?”

“Why, yes, Madame,” the butler
responds. “Quite.” She orders
a quarter kilo, a round of brillat
savarin and some Spanish manchego.

Back on the train, she unfortunately
chooses a seat next to an old man
who hasn’t washed his socks
for a while which she has heard
is usual for the British.

When the train cabin begins to fill,
she diplomatically excuses herself
to give her seat to an elderly lady
but even standing across the aisle,
she gets a whiff of dirty underwear.

“Don’t these people wash?” she thinks.
After exiting at Arthur Conan Doyle’s
Baker Street, she is soon back in her flat
in Marylebone with her parcels.
Her husband asks, “Honey, did you
shower this morning?”

Stinky cheese.


Jan Ball has had 327 poems published in journals around the world. Recently, her poem "Not Sharing at Yoshu" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize by the British Journal Orbis. Her three chapbooks and first full-length book, "I Wanted To Dance With My Father," were published by Finishing Line Press. Jan lived in Australia for fourteen years with her Australian husband.

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  1. Absolutely love it, Jan. I look forward to posts about your poetry. Kudos — again! Patt Thompson

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