incendium amoris

    Burning incense could cause cancer according to a scientific study conducted by researchers from Taiwan, who found high levels of carcinogens in the smoke of incense burned in Buddhist temples.
    - Assoc Press (2 Aug 2001)

    I have groped my breast seeking whether this burning were from any bodily cause outwardly. But when I knew that it was only kindled inwardly from a ghostly cause, and that this burning was nought of fleshly love or concupiscence, in this I conceived it was the gift of my Maker.
    - Richard Rolle, The Fire of Love (14th C)


    Now we know our prayers
    are killing us. Offer incense, set flame
    to sandalwood, give your soul
    to the votive glow of oil lamp and candle;
    all it summons is this secret bird of prey,
    silence fluttering beneath the rib-cage.
    So the slow burn towards divinity
    begins from within, after all: Ashes to ashes,
    flesh expiring from smoke into grace.
    Gather enough faith
    and it could kill a city.


    We sensed the bigger picture that day
    on Jurong Island: Refineries humming
    like desert temples; land gathered and burnt
    for one purpose only. On the horizon
    smokestacks tower like 7th month joss,
    under whose gaze even light wavers,
    cowed into sunset. Second after second
    the waste flares roar
    their fierce syllable of


    How often we fall to the naked gaze of fire,
    trusting that blaze of fact, faith, desire
    to light the way out from ourselves to wholeness.
    As if salvation is earned by becoming less,
    by feeding our dreams to the right combustion.
    Does the soul hide in plasma? Is God a question?
    The unsolved science of this calculable space,
    whose name resides in the geometry of light?
    Perhaps freedom gleams in answers which escape
    us, eludes our sense of what could be. In which case
    we are more than just a quantity of ash might
    hold, and what we seem to lose, released from shape
    only. Any day we could stumble on paradise
    in the embers of here and now, and what we sacrifice.

30 August 2001   12:05 hours
fengshui { } grace