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John Olson Five Prose Poems

Egyptian Blue

Tendency finds my fingers and I use them to impose on drumsticks. The very dollar winces at its own reciprocity. Admonitions blossom in the rescue of banks, but plunge into pathos when the libraries step forward. Thundering cartwheels crackle in the ooze surrounding our lake. I’m enthralled by the abandonment of form. What did Hegel mean, exactly, by the death of art? He meant the stars climb into our respect when we do something loudly heterogeneous. When we unite the engines in metamorphic landscape knobs. When I carve the words out of air they seem to smolder like the ash of prophesy. Rub your fingers, comb your peculiarities. We’re going out to skulk in a stream of consciousness. Float letters. Slip into shapes of skin and faucet. The solace of the museum is in its buckles. The Fauves sew opinion into wood. Elevations dig into the troubling sky. The incursion of oil has consequences of chrome. Cézanne’s snake secretes devotion. The vague cough of an adjective. The office garlic engaged in nature. Bump the taste of candy. The odors wear our blundering orchids. I work to flare the robin. I stir in my pepper shielding you from hymns of uncontrollable passion. The joy in the light of a moose. The piano’s hungry work. We will expand our endurance to include ourselves in the long inspiration of falling. The bounce of lightning on a coin of light. Buy a whistle and shout by the stream. Defend the probe of the bulb in its patch of eyebrows. It’s rough getting the rattan to express itself. And now it’s just a chair. It’s been a chair all along. And then I sit down and discovered the gluttony of enamel. The clatter of algebra has finally run its course and become a burlesque to explore, a quantity, a brush dipped in Egyptian blue. This is what Hegel meant. Generations of laundry adrift in the canvas sky.





Alpine

Alpine enters mechanically and velvet crusts the glass. We should report the foundry to the calliope operators. Why? Because varnish is sparrows. Because camaraderie extrudes from our metamorphic hands. Because fingers are duly employed in bone and the windows are haunted by syllables. Because the song of all the bees needs a Renaissance and all the thrilling vermilion in the world can’t satisfy the hunger of our dreams.
              Which are nebular as hamburgers in a landslide.
              And garnished with thorn.
              I feel tilted on Tuesday, incalculable on Wednesday, and kleptomaniacal on Thursday. I’m sorry I stole your stigmas. They were just sitting on the shelf looking derelict and weird. That’s no way to treat a stigma. Stigmas need scars and opprobrium. Otherwise what’s the point?
              Kite the drinking hum. Fill the plum with swirls. Scold the lavender theatre. The birth of a Danish diving board is langoustine. It needs our full attention. This is no audiobook talking to you in your car. This is the bliss of the attic. This is the feeling of climbing an expensive tree and thinking to cure the sea with the aromatic whispers of the swimming pool. The one bubbling in the unconscious.
              The unconscious is a heat at the base of the brain. The swell of an honest handkerchief. The wind ploughing the lake into itself. Plumage forged in a dazzling necessity. Scarlet raising an annoyance of lavish perception, the kind one finds in drugstores, swaying in the aisle.
              But this says nothing of trinkets and the awakening awake of Sunday. Ok, you can open your brain now and find some coupons. Take a deep breath. Can you smell it? Can you feel it?
              That’s right. It’s a coupon for ballast. You’ll need some if you feel like saying something openly radical to the knives. The ground screams cloth. It’s waving its levers at our clothes.
              Fingers make a snowball. Muscles rock the drapery. The queen is blatantly entangling her letters in a statement about the transitory nature of everything. To die sullenly of laziness is one option. Another is to die into life as life lives itself through death. It feels singularly quantum at the edge. This is where all the dark energy of the cosmos comes together to form a cup of hot chocolate.
And yes, I agree, I can feel redemption slip through us in the department store. Maybe we should go outside. The quintessence of the needle is in its unthinking acuity. The lobster wanders the bottom of the ocean smoking a big cigar. The unbalanced forest tattoo finds a panacea in an asymmetrical car.
              Let’s not forget butter. If the coinage is good and the heart is willing, the fiesta will be honored at all the local haunts. Just take a deep breath and cross the threshold. The cure to pain is in the pain itself, said Rumi. That said, one wonders what it’s like to actually see a language crawl around on its syllables creating hindsight and wakes. Why do I always expect to see things appear in language when language itself is everywhere doing and undoing its knots?
              The answer to this is a rapid vibration, but I can’t quite make it out.
              Is language truly an instrument of thought, or something entirely different, junk in the garage, old albums and rakes? In the end it is alpine that matters, alpine that simmers and quakes, that shouts back the sky in the purity of its lakes.





Puck

Bubbles restore the punchbag. This is done privately, by making the leather sag into itself. Not all meaning is calculable. For example, the novel is mapped on a sternum, but the railroad expands its eyeballs into small eternities, new contexts, nouns and gowns and trinkets and things. The crab twitches and turns. All the monuments are ablaze with the fires of history. The marble is absorbed in horses and swords. Fall throws itself through the office in its beautiful dying light and the windows rattle with a nearby stampede. We find a sense of seclusion in umber, the rawness of life symbolically dangled in a narrative of atomic bric-a-brac. The ochre is improbable, but fits somehow, once the ripeness of the dimension finds itself pushing out of its skin, and the reference to pagination cannot hurt the moment with any death-bed perspective, but grows into a deeper understanding of being. It takes a quart of reflection to make a stew of rumination. The lament is visceral. The cabbage patch is tempting, but the tulip bulbs have reinvented themselves as locoweed. Even the logarithms seem sad. The guitar expands into hallucination. The adjective thrusts itself at a hill and unfolds its syllables until they enchant the surrounding minerals. Elephants discharge streams of urine. The world is exasperated by all the exploration. Conceits of travel step forward into perception. The spirit screams at things. The wrestlers skulk around in their bones doing radio flutter and murmuring metamorphic hymns. Shield the stars. Don’t let the void hurt them. Stumble through yourself. It’s spicy and green to abandon a brain. The table squirts its joy in rain. Sift the pepper for form. It’s broadly French to meander through the country, but it must mean something to us in relation to our lives, imply something exciting and lime, perhaps a little translucent, like space. Goad the painter to put more blue inside the majordomo, but make the eyebrows pumice. Include a newspaper. Bounce the harmonica butter. Life isn’t always this captivated by its surroundings. Sometimes it just needs a little further scrutiny. And then it explodes into hockey.





The Superfetation Of Itself

I still feel the heat of the king's forge, the insufferable chatter of elves. I shave in men's rooms along the highway. If you tell me what you want, I will write it down, and it will become a kingdom. Go away haberdashery fish.
              And here is a falling open mimosa. A knife trimming the lake with representation, which is easy, like pushing a door open. Drink some amalgamation radius. The circumference brimming the chest of the moose. Bean the theater lift. Go somewhere that is mutable and become a romantic, someone young leaning against the walls of a ruin, or someone old curing diseases in a small village.
              I know, I sound like I’m giving orders, who does that in a paragraph?
              Paragraphs are just little rocks offshore. The big rocks are catechisms of surf. The ocean keeps questioning the land, the land keeps answering with sand.
              An inflatable paragraph is a balloon, plain and simple, a cry floating into the heavens. Help us, please. Come down from your throne and sooth these waters with your breath.
              It might also be called a prayer. Or a headland.
              Buy the red musk. Slow the pleasure of wax. It’s radical getting dressed in rocks. I find a universe in the fuchsia and wear a shirt of rudimentary dissociations, including the buttons, which conveniently reflect the bonfire by the sea, mirroring it in brass and causing a great lapse in the fabric of time. We call this lapse the Mademoiselle of Insight, and she reciprocates with sugar.
              Attention forces the glasses to my face. The bones dream of flocks and a person nearby plows the sand with their leg. It has the quantum effect of ice and dazzles the guides.
              The allegory forgives its inflammations, each one blatant as tarpaulin, and just as ubiquitous. A warm nomadic almanac finds it way to my lap. A man storms in his teeth. I come to a palm door and open it to a narwhal sitting in a throne of ivory smoking a harpoon. It’s a funny notion, but I think it may be a good time to sell the vineyard and take up the life of a plumber. The cave is dyed in its own darkness. This is the color of oblivion. The singular aromatic piece of night we all carry in our hearts. Add the clatter of absence and you’ve got a hawk swooping by. The rustle of feet in the grass. Nature overflowing with wind.





Modern Agriculture

To be mindful of a tangible shape is congenial and magnets. Twinkling locomotive that a line can print. Cabbage tied in admonition of itself. The meaning that crawls around in spices. And expects words to grow it into food.
              Bulb slash that a gauze bends. Pathos is goaded into the infrared where it turns porous and tastes of planetarium popcorn. This is where sense happens and canvas. Drugged snakes and Cézanne. Fingers. Opulent packs of dizzy enthusiasm. Boxing squashed by haunch. The referee sips out of a botched throat. We plough the dirt into nomenclature and respect the bubbles. Umber fidget bent into roots. Garish flavors we put in scales and weigh.
              There’s a rawhide wheel that rolls into arguments of dirt and a perception amazed into problems of growth and correspondence. Sift supposition and find experience smoldering in alpaca. Shapes expect description. Describe them as oats. Describe them as extracurricular. Breakfast skimmed by tiger. Iron and velvet. Thoughts writhing within a philosophy of slaps.
              Milk in my arms and the harm of form when it turns shovel and sweat. Barns flutter. The song is soaked in fire. And finally, in the bistro, we discover that life is alchemical. This isn’t a big surprise. But it chose us to make the diagnosis.
              Meanwhile, the mirrors enhance our elbows. There’s an athleticism to enhancement that may be further expanded into alligators. The world waddles around in words and the trumpets approve of our disarray. Is garlic a form of will? Or just fascinating?
              The table is hungry for its form. Amalgams of sound find their meringue in meaning. I slouch forward spilling adjectives on a slavish emotion. I set it free by murdering reality with a rancorous idealism. Reality comes back for more. I give it everything I can. Eventually, we agree on the chintz, and the potassium creates a patch of maidenhair. This is what is meant by the abandonment of subjectivity. Joy to the world. Let us sing hymns of asphalt. Let the words catch fire. The rivers are hungry in their movement.
              The wire walks through its hammers and dilates into a sepia landscape. It purports to be an art made of hands but I think it testifies to the light spitting out of the ground.
              Yes. Shoes are important. They dazzle the gargoyles, which are stone, and not liable to mess around with the mermaids, who float by waving at us like snapshots.
              The brain flares open and bounces into Norway. Hallucinations do the rest.








John Olson is the author of many books of poetry, chiefly (though not exclusively) prose poetry, including Dada Budapest, Larynx Galaxy and Backscatter: New and Selected Poems. He has also written four novels, including In Advance of the Broken Justy, The Seeing Machine, The Nothing That Is, and Souls of Wind, the latter of which was shortlisted for a Believer Book Award in 2008. In 2004, he received an annual genius award for literature from Seattle’s popular weekly The Stranger.
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