John Olson Five Prose Poems

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Fluid Dynamics

I am enchanted by tide pools. They’re like an idea thickening with thought. Sea stars, anemones, whelks. Limpets, isopods, crabs. All of it a form of thought. As if nature expressed its geometry and thought in terms of salinity and waves, fluctuations and rocks.
              The thunder marries the eye of a whistle and puts a little emphasis in the fact of air.
              Blue jays eating peanuts.
              England encumbered with attics and drums.
              A fugue is not a cow. Not it’s not. But do we ever really know what it is we want?
              We looked at a lot of art in New York and I clearly left with the impression that art is a form of nitroglycerin, a radical empiricism blowing up the mind.
              The mind floats down in pieces of thought, settling on a sheet of paper in the form of words.
              A tide pool.
              Rainbows of spray, high tides and storms.
              Barnacles, crabs, and algae.
              Fluid dynamics. Weather patterns. Nebulae in interstellar space.
              Candy to the mind of Euclid.

We Are Friends

My father smoked a pipe. Everywhere he went he left a trail of pipe tobacco, wraiths of smoke coiling and twisting langourously behind him, rings and halos in slow undulation, like ghosts of twisted tobacco.
              Images of Spain caroused in my brain.
              Years later, the grammar of supposition sweats astonishing textures, asterisks and washcloths, leaving me with a new landscape, a new geography.
              It has recently snowed.
              I see a group of Indians, lost in a blizzard, in what appears to be Montana, a painting by Charles Russell. The painting matches what I see outside. The painting matches what I see inside. The painting describes an expansion of consciousness, the opening of the mind when the body is lost, when direction is lost, when all is lost except the uncertainties of the mind, which are vast as the universe itself.
              The library dreams it is an airport. All the books are propellers. All the pages are wings.
              Outside, reality walks through the trees.
              The fence slaps at the wind, mimicking a thrust of German expressionism.
              The sidewalk convulses with stories. Each crack, each fissure, is a chapter of feet and concrete.
              Can you pull a meaning out of a hormone?
              Yes. Meanings teem in the gardens of the bloodstream.
              My belt is old, but my languor is new.
              An angel of milk blurs the horizon.
              Crystals of snow glisten on the rocks.
              The firmament nestles in my nerves.
              The smell of my father’s smoke is long gone.
              I sit in front of a painting, one eye plunged in color, the other dragging words.


My hairdo baffles the mirror. I don’t understand it either. It grows out of my head and fosters a point of view that cries for dereliction.
              Nearby, in the kitchen, Bach shines in a jar of sound.
              I spread some on a piece of bread. It tastes like a concerto grosso in F major.
              Sometimes, when I put my mind to it, I can put my thought into words. Is there a glossary for the behavior of sparrows?
              Monsters of wealth employ adjectives that dribble with honey and sawdust.
              There are two peeled potatoes in the refrigerator. I do not know how to describe them as anything other than two peeled potatoes in the refrigerator.
              Two peeled potatoes in the refrigerator.
              Potatoes. Refrigerator. Peeled. Ready to boil. To mash. To eat. To slice into chunks. To stir. To scallop and bake.
              The day’s road unfolds like an idea, a barometer of England, or lake.
              The humidity is extreme. I am trying to contact Mars. The shampoo blazes with symbolism. The bats of Guadeloupe are idioms of intention. An emission of flames accompanies the birth of purple.
              We decide to go diving to discover the secrets of the ocean.
              The ocean of consciousness in our heads.
              Our heads.
              Covered with hair. The wild hair of morning. The smooth hair of evening. The hair of dreams and entanglements. The hair of poverty and scraping by. The hair of wealth. The hair of the bald, in which the head is smooth like a cocoon, or football.
              History is propelled by lip.
              Daniel Boone moves along a path alert to the songs of birds.
              And everything in the head is silent, or created by words.

Pharmaceutical Funnies

Dracula enters the pharmacy looking sad but hopeful. The pharmacist pulls a sonnet out of his thumb and hands it to him.
              This is a novel by Bugs Bunny.
              Each page is a revelation.
              The sun crawls through the sky like a wounded animal. The concept of measure labors to create a form capable of humanoid intervention. Rabbits with hands. And feet.
              Pronouns of palpable affiliation.
              In a grammar of dots and colors, there are no limits to objective space or an objective world.
              The definition declares the essence, the word signifies the definition.
              Cinnamon elevates the flavor of thyme.
              Heidegger’s nihilism is obliterated by Blondie’s optimism.
              Dagwood takes as long of a bath as he wants.
              Dilbert becomes an astronaut.
              Dennis the Menace starts a meth lab in the Ozarks.
              Bugs Bunny wonders why people are so obsessed by Harry Potter. The metaphysical relation of the self with the other begins with the desire for the infinite. Unconditional courage is not a virtue. Resistance to adversity is only a virtue when it is exercised in conjunction with what is proper to resist and what is not.
              Eh, what’s up doc? Don’t take life too seriously. You’ll never get out alive.
              Bugs believes his novel is infinitely better than Harry Potter and will change the world. The cartoons he once starred in are no longer popular, but he remains undaunted.
              He returns to his novel.
              Dracula returns home with a filled prescription. Vials of morphine. Elixirs of dark, syrupy consistency. Contusions of the moon. Contrast.
              Dracula waves a wand.
              The present ambushes the future. He is immortal. He is pale. He rises from a coffin.
              The head is native to the neck.
              It is snowing.
              Phantoms of reason push at the castle door.

Whatever I Feel Like Doing

I have a sack of nails, a hammer, and a saw. I feel like building something. A play, a sonnet teetering on insinuation, or an orchid that quietly understates the problem of sports.
              Constellations of worldly morality. Made of ink and moonlight.
              In other words, not all that worldly.
              More like an abstract expressionist rendition of truffles in the south of France.
              I can walk, swim, talk about insects. Whatever I feel like doing.
              Where did my coffee go?
              Here is what I want to do: make a charcoal ovum on the outskirts of a shaggy ox.
              Or a remedy for fascism. Shrewdly designed to look like a dictator.
              In the guise of a snowman.
              With a carrot for a nose.
              And a pickle for a mustache.
              I don’t know what constitutes morality.
              Do you?
              Once, I lived in California. Friction among certain people helped me to build a personality based on molasses and effervescence.
              That, at any rate, was the general idea.
              But it all went awry.
              Sometimes I can feel an emotion gestate. The paradigm thickens with understanding. The exhumation of night merits my full attention. Living large makes sense. I rejoice in the smears of Cy Twombly. Everything is bursting with jonquils. Punctuation echoes the machinery of hesitation.
              I love to go canoeing.
              It solves everything.

This material is © John Olson
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