Two Prose Poems – John Olson

Whereby the World Smacks of Mackinaw

I assume my existence is a republic of blood and bone and that we walk through ourselves to places of beauty in a revealing intuition of consciousness as a form of headlight. It is in this sense that a book exists as distinct from its author, moss amid moss in the milieu of its solitude, lady bells and a garden in Montmartre. A bottle of wine travels through itself. It is in itself only nothingness, a shine in the blood whispering eventual sleep.
            Paris glimmers in the evening. I am only my perceptions. Death is a theater in which I will one day play a role. Meanwhile one can give being to a transcendent nothingness and go on one’s way, cast oneself into the flux of existence, diversions and chocolate and long walks in the rain.
            Being is everywhere. A Picasso trembles with the sugar of appearance. Exasperation heats a language detached from its destiny. One can conceive of a creation as a calliope of smells, an admonition of pins designed to stimulate beatitudes of ardor and hammer. An amber emotion softens the touch of day. My cuts are healing. Perception is a creative event, and there is redemption in this paradigm. Images run to agree with it. Subtlety grows wings. The dirt smells richly of pain and labor. The railroad unrolls in the distance. Truly, my shoes are literal shelters for my feet. I am like an emotion flapping in the wind. I could be employed as a ribbon on a box of spiders or the slow drool of honey from a spoon.
            One can see where this theory is leading. The puddle hugs the sky in its reflection and the skin at the elbow has long been a fascination for my fingers when the spirit of idleness has presented itself and the problems of others tossed in my mind like a green salad with anchovies and cheddar. Food for thought, as the saying goes.
            What can the relativity of being mean if the being finds its being in something other than itself? The slow white groan of raw sienna.A jar of candy.A tonic in F minor.A sentence boiling with windows and cerulean dossiers of hypnopompic shampoo.A basket of laundry barking at a pair of freshly creased pants.
            Language is the shadow of reality. It can do and say what it wants and yet reality will go on shaking and percolating as if nothing had happened. Things give themselves to us as appearances and we convert them to sermons. The greenhouse mimics the heat of the tropics and bromeliads dazzle us with shape and color. I feel a little sweat trickle down my back. Waves of intoxicating fragrance remind us that a little moisture can tingle on the skin like a thesis of undulation. And so we widen our lens and see that the world is with us in some way, not against us, but mingling itself with our desires in such manner that no pleasure is exempt from pain but is a blend of pleasure and pain and our dreams are sewn with the thread of sleep.
            Being is what it is. A skull whose two holes were eyes.The feel of a feather on the skin.



How Far Can I Go?

How far can I go without arriving anywhere? Consciousness moves toward the meaning of being and finds a dynasty of sense in a gumbo of words. Being is opaque to itself because it is filled with itself and this filling is the emptiness of a street swirling with snow.
The pulse of a peacock is soft as punctuation. Consciousness, which is the punctuation of being, is an abstraction in which carbohydrates wear the fog of time and sensations corresponding to the tenderness of mushrooms and beans give us the mystery of one another. An ocean climbs into speculation and extrudes prophesies of salt. The ocean recedes leaving a wet slick sand addressed to a shadow, a comet’s tail tasting of ice and metal.
            Thus, the ocean is a great power, and should be nailed to the wall, where it may be viewed at our pleasure, that is to say its image rendered in watercolor, for the guests of the motel. The cars repose in the night. They are parked at angles. A pop machine hums. Palm trees whisper to the moon,and the adult in 3C stirs with childhood memories, making the bedsprings squeak.
            What is this planet we call home? What is it? It is more than a rock. More than a ball of water. More than its clouds and mountains.
            What is it?
            It glitters in its rhythms. It rolls through space marbled with clouds, blackbirds and orchards, catwalks and broth. Creatures emerge from the water and begin to speak. Their words glare of abstraction.
            What is this light? How does it serve the meaning of the dark?
            Due to the requirements of language, everything is infrared. Space and light are married in emulsion. A patch of trembling flowers are spirits that strain to speak.
            A kitchen knife shares the air with a glass of grape juice. But my God, what happened to the butter? It has melted into the shape of a sparrow. And the bread is a page in the chapter of an invocation.
            All consciousness is consciousness of something. Even a spoon accommodates the rising sun by providing a palette for its heat and light. A smooth silver curvature with a handle whose tip depicts a tangle of vegetation.
            What more can I say?
            Let our blood warm the leather of our inquiry. As for Nothingness, it, too, has a truth to tell. The non-being of being topples into the sentence like a load of whipped cream and puzzles the will to express some authority over it. But nothingness is, after all, nothing, and there is nothing to say to nothing but whatever rolls from the mouth, and that may be an apple, or the representation of an apple, which implies the absence of an apple at the same time it presents the appleness of an apple.
            The rest is silence.
            And bananas and cherries and jujubes and dates.




John Olson is the author of eight books of poetry, his most recent being ‘Larynx Galaxy’ from Black Widow Press. He is also the author of three novels, including ‘The Seeing Machine’, about French painter Georges Braque, ‘The Nothing That Is’, an autobiographical novel presented from the 2nd person point of view, and ‘Souls of Wind’, in which French poet Arthur Rimbaud visits the United States in the 1880s and meets Billy the Kid while on a paleontological dig in New Mexico, which was shortlisted for a Believer book of the year award in 2008. He is the recipient of ‘The Stranger’s Annual Genius Award’ for literature in 2004 and was one of eight finalists for the ’2012 Arts Innovator Award’.


About thefiendjournal

I was born in Blackpool, England and am currently based in Lancashire. Poems have been published in magazines in the U.K, Ireland, France, New Zealand, Canada, U.S.A and South Korea. A pamphlet; "MMV", was published in 2008. Hundreds of poems have been written in draft form, and multiple books are being planned and edited for future release. As well as editing 'The Fiend' I translate, paint and dabble in photography (images of which have occasionally been used here).
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