Spritz me a fragrant poem

Sharp breaths, taking in

As much unknown as they can.

Known footsteps approach.

meta graffiti


Continuing my stream of thought on the nuances of poetry as storytelling, one of the main differences that stand out to me is that poetry allows the writer exemption from holding the reader’s hand through the consequences of a story. While novels can also leave readers hanging and filling in their own blanks as to what happened after a shocking climax, there’s an obligation to lead them through significant twists and turns and character development before dropping them off somewhere relatively safe—the intention is never for a reader to actually fall off a cliff.

So many perfume marketers want to sell the “story” of a perfume, by which they mean to indulge the prospective buyer in a fantasy of decadent time spent, often at the expense of moral conflict. Because what better to escape the mind-numbing quotidianness of our vanilla routines (but vanilla is expensive, so if we really want to complain, they should be ethyl vanillin)? The part they omit—and nobody really cares to know—is the aftermath of such stolen pleasures. That’s entirely up to you, babe. Use your imagination; it’s gotten you this far.


Perfume, with its tendency to evaporate over a day of wearing, expresses itself more like a poem.

In the marketing of less immediately desirable goods than perfume, writers don’t have the luxury of poetry. You have to spell it out for them. You have to draw the “red thread” between idea A and idea B with a thick Sharpie of active verbs and qualifiable nouns, and loop it through idea C back to idea A. Forget attracting those with whom your message resonates—you have to tailor your message to resonate with those who wouldn’t otherwise bat an eye. In fact, you would do well to lead with the potential consequences of not taking the action you are about to tell them to take… worst of which may be the status quo.


In my personal writing, some of my most cherished works have been—by intent or otherwise—to an audience of one. By virtue of the existing close relationship between the reader and me, they most likely (I hope) understood the writing as I meant it to be understood. (And just as likely forgot about it [I hope not] over time as the relationship brought new things to focus on in any given moment.)

However, the greater your audience in number, the more your hope for the work evolves to their internalizing and interpreting it in a way that has meaning for them, even if the way it touches them differs far from how—or when—you were touched to write it originally.

We have very little control over how we will be known by others. The best bet is to offer something that they will find value in for themselves.


Incidentally, today I am wearing Lampblack by Fzotic, from a Fragrant Portfolio sample kit I bought. It is named after “Lampblack pigment; the smell of ink.” Inky it is, indeed! Almost like my own personal oil spill, but dry in every sense of the word. No taking back any statement written in this pigment.

That’s the kind of confidence we need, my friends.






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