Incense and Poetry : Haiku of the Day

The smoke
Is now making
The first sky of the year.

Issa (1763 – 1828), a Japanese poet, whose name means simply “a cup of tea”

You can write about anything you wish in this thread, including your favorite poetry. For those who would like to use the Scent Diary to sharpen their sense of smell, I will give a short explanation. As I wrote in How to Improve Your Sense of Smell, the best way to do so is to smell and to pay attention to what you’re smelling. It doesn’t matter what you smell. The most important thing is to notice scents around you. It’s even better if you write it down. So please share your scents and perfumes with us.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin



  • Monica: I’m testing Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine today. Not sure if it’s my nose, but it smells bitter on me. I will wear something else later. January 22, 2018 at 9:31am Reply

    • Victoria: Some also find a bitter note, although I can’t say that I notice it. January 22, 2018 at 2:22pm Reply

    • Madaris: I too smell the sharply bitter note. Sometimes I think I notice this in all of my Ateler fragrances. January 28, 2018 at 3:06pm Reply

  • Chris Rusak: “I’m a thief
    in an empty
    and I’m giving
    it all

    A stanza from Completely Attached to Delusion, by John Giorno

    I burn incense often on a hot charcoal puck and lately I have been taking stamens of pollen from grocery-store lilies and burning it beside Indian frankincense. Does it smell like anything? I may be delusional but I think it smells like hope to make it to spring. January 22, 2018 at 9:39am Reply

    • Victoria: I’d love to try it too!

      Thank you for the poem. January 22, 2018 at 2:23pm Reply

  • Margarita: When I woke up before sunrise, my cat led me to the balcony to taste and smell the new snow – sharp, almost painful sensation of heavy damp whiteness covers the trees and the streets. When I got up two hours later, the white ghost has shifted into a Christmas fairy-tale, belated a little but lovely so far. January 22, 2018 at 9:55am Reply

  • Filomena: Today I'[m wearing Neely Vermiere’s Rahele. January 22, 2018 at 10:11am Reply

    • Victoria: Rahele has been a popular perfume on Bois de Jasmin lately. It’s lovely. January 22, 2018 at 2:24pm Reply

    • AndreaR: Me too. It seemed just right for today and it is.
      My morning began with scents of tumeric, ginger, black pepper , lemon and buckwheat honey that I blend into a paste and then add hot water and sip as my morning drink. January 22, 2018 at 3:40pm Reply

  • OnWingsofSaffron: „The most important thing is to notice scents around you.“ Right, here goes:
    This morning, I sprayed some of my „Rose absolue“ (Goutal). I had bought 1/2 a bottle via ebay. Once again, it smelled thin, sour, srasperry vinegar. Pissy was what came to mind, sorry!
    Okay, perhaps the stuff is off?
    But then I remembered how rose fragrances often react strangely on me: Rose Poivrée somehow doesn’t smell at all of rose; Oud Ispahan emits a weird chemical smell on me
    which stays for days; Eau Suave is so nondescript that I couldn‘t,… well describe; Parfum Sacré comes and goes before I can say hello.
    Only Serge Lutens with Sa Majesté and Fille de Berlin smell intensively of roses to me.
    That leads me to question what I am smelling? As what am I getting or not getting?
    Because when I came to work a colleague said: you smell lovely! January 22, 2018 at 12:14pm Reply

    • Victoria: One tip is to spray a scent strip, leave it in a room and return there 15-30 min later. Perhaps, close up these perfumes smell differently from their sillage. Rose has a tart, metallic note, which is true, but Rose Absolue also should drydown to a sweeter, warmer finish.

      Rose Poivree does smell raunchy, almost indecently so. January 22, 2018 at 2:26pm Reply

  • lovestosmellgood: What a beautiful haiku!
    I am taking notes of my smells today and will report back January 22, 2018 at 12:36pm Reply

    • Victoria: Looking forward to it! January 22, 2018 at 2:27pm Reply

  • Geraldine Ethen: I love incense and particularly Votivo’s Red Current. I have several sticks left from a container I got several years ago. Being an Orthodox Christian, I get to experience various incenses still and love opening the door to church and taking in the aroma. I am immediately prepared to enter a holy place. January 22, 2018 at 12:44pm Reply

    • Victoria: Orthodox incense with its rich dose of benzoin is one of my favorites. The blend of pepper from olibanum and vanilla-cinnamon from benzoin and styrax make it so memorable. January 22, 2018 at 2:28pm Reply

    • AndreaR: I love the combination of incense and the scent of burning bee’s wax candles in our Orthodox churches. January 22, 2018 at 3:44pm Reply

      • Eudora: I light a candle
        I blow out a candle
        The second sky of the year

        The smell of wax candles. January 23, 2018 at 6:09pm Reply

        • AndreaR: So evocative!! January 23, 2018 at 6:25pm Reply

  • MMKInPA: The snow is melting and it’s warmer today. My beagle is very happy to have a new set of smells on his walk- he loves snow but the earthy damp smell is even better. My kitchen smells sweet, sweet , sweet- leftover birthday cake from our son’s 14th birthday celebration last night – vanilla cake and sweet buttercream.

    My perfume is Sonoma Scent Studio Equestrian. Apple and hay on my skin. January 22, 2018 at 4:57pm Reply

    • Victoria: A beauty! Very sad that SSS is no more. February 1, 2018 at 4:43am Reply

  • Mel: It is only in isolate flecks that
    is given off

    From “To Elsie,” by William Carlos Williams

    Speaking of incense, I’m wearing Ossuary by LA Curie today – orris root, wilted violets, charred wood, dalmation iris, incense, and palo santo – inspired by European catacombs! January 22, 2018 at 5:15pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much. So beautiful. February 1, 2018 at 9:07am Reply

  • Debi Smith: I recently unearthed an old bottle of Blue Grass eau de parfum by Elizabeth Arden and have been wearing it with delirious pleasure. My mother wore it and later in her life I stopped using it because I associated it so strongly with her that I was superstitiously afraid to empty the bottle. Now if I wear it or drink the lapsang souchong tea we shared it’s like a spell to conjure her for a fragrant while. January 22, 2018 at 8:05pm Reply

    • Gabriela: Beautiful words about your mother Debi, pure poetry.

      My favorite Brazilian author is Clarice Lispector.

      “I don’t want to have the terrible limitation of those who live merely from what can make sense. Not I: I want an invented truth.”
      ― Clarice Lispector January 23, 2018 at 5:04am Reply

      • Gabriela: Victoria, Clarice was born in Ukraine! January 23, 2018 at 5:06am Reply

        • Victoria: Yes, in a town that I actually visited. February 1, 2018 at 9:08am Reply

      • Eudora: In Wikipedia, truth or invented truth. I read that when she was dying in the hospital she told a nurse: “my character is dying”. January 23, 2018 at 5:48pm Reply

        • Gabriela: I totally agree Eudora. In psychoanalysis, truth is always invented, memories are very subjective so there is never “truth”. January 24, 2018 at 3:39am Reply

      • Mel: I just bought “The Passion According to GH” by Clarice Lispector b/c Victoria recommended it in one of her book lists. I’ve never read the author so I’m very excited to discover her work. January 23, 2018 at 8:32pm Reply

        • Gabriela: I’m going to read her work again, it’s been a long time. Other Brazilian authors worth reading are Jorge Amado and Guimarães Rosa. January 24, 2018 at 3:43am Reply

      • Debi Smith: Or as my Dad, whose scents included Old Spice and Lava Soap, would say “Never let the truth hurt a good story, Deborah!”.. I’m Blanche Dubois,me, “I want Magic!” January 24, 2018 at 11:36am Reply

    • Victoria: What a gem! February 1, 2018 at 9:07am Reply

  • Peggy: I lit a votive candle to melt a wax cube of Claire Burke Original while I was making coffee this morning. The curious combination of the smell of sulphur from the match, the brewing coffee and the sweet clean and slightly spicy smell of the Claire Burke made me think of my grandmother’s house. January 23, 2018 at 5:41am Reply

    • MMKinPA: I love scent memories of parents and grandparents. We don’t have real matches in our house anymore thanks to a remote control gas fireplace and Scripto lighters- but I love that sulfur smell. January 23, 2018 at 8:28am Reply

    • Victoria: I love such accidental combinations. February 1, 2018 at 9:09am Reply

  • Cody: I literally bathe in Comme des Garçons Avignon all winter! People say it smells dark and brooding but I’ve never made that association. I always notice the bright metallic/citrusy facet of frankincense more than anything. January 23, 2018 at 10:54am Reply

    • Eudora: I adore Avignon in winter.
      I spray it at night, only for me
      Very selfish?
      When it is cold it is cozy and warm and peaceful but mysterious.
      It feels Home.
      So I read poetry… January 23, 2018 at 4:20pm Reply

    • Victoria: I also don’t find it particularly dark now, although I did very first time I tried it. February 1, 2018 at 9:10am Reply

  • penny: some time ago someone on this blog (forgive me I forget who) wrote some lines from the Syrian poet Adonis

    I summon angels and ambulances—
    I turn into water and flow in the pool of my sorrows

    I become a horizon and climb the heights of desire.
    I know that we die only once and are many times reborn
    And I know that death is only useful if we live it through.
    I know that the hereafter is this rose
    this woman
    and that a human face is the other side of the sky.

    I love that so much thank you for introducing his poetry to me .

    also I love “Design” the poem by Robert Frost. January 23, 2018 at 2:43pm Reply

  • John: I am thinking of cloves today (having worn the third man all day), but hoping for a brighter day (habit rouge, whose incense always makes me feel meditative) tomorrow. Here is a piece broken off of a larger prose poem from a series I wrote using fragrance as a point of departure, concerning (of all things) old spice:

    Whenever you are in trouble, in some scrape or as they say, on the verge of despair, remember these repairs: you are speaking life back to itself in a language the both of you know so well. Clove oil for toothaches, analgesics of the brain; try to read, thinking of nothing, and withdraw at the prophetic hour, picturing blank space as the sign declaring no-man’s land in the struggle against the gyre of narcissism’s tics. Know that happiness is for real, if covert, the reasoning behind Herculean labors after the guilt’s half passed… Like a carnation’s affected erection, exhausted + nestled in its baffled folds in the buttonhole, achievements marked by deference to what came before and all at once.

    By being a social animal, you are trading effort for forgiveness, a sprinkling of thin sympathy like talcum powder (white sounds as opposed to white noise?) softening the way for an evening’s incline into drinks; jasmine flowers let in the pull of an open breath to fill up this void so that your mouth’s curvatures sound out in clouded euphony. Giving your one self up to someone’s passion, the joy and pain bending into one other with relief. Not this, not yet, but the mid-life as yet unsaid remembering, remembering human dignity survives in both absolute principles and piecemeal coalition. The vision extended, we reach the end, the scene changes and we have gained something apart from being sweetly empty, extracted, unnumbered and enambered. January 24, 2018 at 1:44am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much for sharing it. February 1, 2018 at 9:13am Reply

  • bregje: Rain will fall again
    on your smooth pavement,
    a light rain like
    a breath or a step.
    The breeze and the dawn
    will flourish again
    when you return,
    as if beneath your step.
    Between flowers and sills
    the cats will know.

    Cesare Pavese

    Recently i’ve been remembering a perfume i used to wear about 9 years ago by Agent Provocateur. I don’t know why this scent memory has come back to me, but i am longing to wear it again 😉 January 25, 2018 at 4:01pm Reply

    • Victoria: One of my favorite writers! February 1, 2018 at 9:14am Reply

  • Figuier: I have been thinking about the smell of freshly ground cardamom a lot lately – that slightly oily grassy note it has, as well as the yeasty overtones – although that might actually be a ‘scent hologram’ because I so often use cardamom in yeast baking. In any case, it’s one of the most evocative, comforting scents I know. January 26, 2018 at 7:02am Reply

    • Victoria: What kind of baking do you do with cardamom? It’s one of my favorite spices. February 1, 2018 at 9:16am Reply

      • Figuier: I’m half Swedish, so it’s the traditional recipes that trigger nostalgia – cardamom yeast rolls (like the cinnamon ones, but less ubiquitous), and the same dough mix (butter & egg-enriched, with cardamom and a little sugar) for rolls & plaits of various kinds. But I also make madeira-type cakes flavoured with cardamom, and am partial to a frozen-raspberry fool flavoured with minute quantities of rosewater and ground cardamom and sprinkled with toasted flaked almonds. February 3, 2018 at 12:26pm Reply

  • Inma: “Sometimes a thin aroma like water,
    like a cloud or the rain; other times a violent
    perfume that reminds of a gazelle skin,
    the sweat and the blood of an animal in oestrus.”

    Josefa Parra

    And so many other arormas to explore! Thank you, as always, for inviting us to share this type of thing.

    Have all of you a very nice weekend! January 26, 2018 at 9:22am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much for this poem! January 26, 2018 at 10:01am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much! February 1, 2018 at 9:17am Reply

  • joseph: rising steam
    toasty scent
    of rice and
    the sharpness
    of sencha, newly green

    Tho genmaicha and especially mugicha may be associated with summer, the wafting up of toasty grain in genmaicha just before reading your post was, I realize, a kind of steamy incense.

    Kaori awase, identifying smells, a great pastime, and your posts on individual smells helps in picking them out in blended aromas. Thanks. January 27, 2018 at 4:49pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Joseph! These are some of my favorite scents. February 1, 2018 at 4:55am Reply

  • Lauren: Am wearing something incensey today – Serge Noire by Serge Lutens! It was by mistake though, I thought I’d picked up my bottle of Chergui. January 28, 2018 at 5:29pm Reply

    • Victoria: A nice mistake. 🙂 February 1, 2018 at 4:51am Reply

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