Hold this poem and rub it with space. Ingest it with
your eyes. Enkindle it with needs. Drip abstraction. It just happens.
Abstraction happens. You feel alive and blaze in the snow of Iceland, a
carnival of thought and emotion with a head like a sack of helium. Piercing
sounds of creosote serve the fertility of experience. The map amplifies the
disconnect between reality and an implied geography whose mountains and rivers
exhibit the gum of time as it occupies a schematized space. Incidents of rubber
absorb the shock of monotony. The repetitive rhythm of walking. Headlights
shining through words of granite. The human mind is smeared with sexual
metaphor, the teased agreements of audacity and steep relation, the incentive
to suck and sparkle, the courage to pin a passion to a fold of fingers. The
light is swollen. It indulges the walls. A sharp wind hangs from a highway
sign. The grease at the center of the world allows everything to turn without
squeaking, its axle is wet as veins. And so useful it is to consult
consciousness that consciousness strains to find meaning in hockey. Words,
thumbs, glances, glass, glans, baptisms and powwows. And sometimes we taste the
heat of thought in a balloon of dizzying lucidity, rising into the sky like a
cabana with a checkered past. Possession can also mean inglenook. Or mulberry.
It takes a friend, naturally, to confirm the thickening thoughts on a piece of
paper, each word clear as an ice cube and each sentence a wading pool for the
eyes. Symbolism is nothing more than a bag of groceries, items arranged by
weight and density. The lettuce goes on top, and symbolizes courage. The jelly
is upside down but if the cap is on tight it should remain true to the image of
kings. We feel the full impact of reality at the checkstand. Here is where
being water gets a little messy and hanging words upside-down doesn’t help the
situation. It’s better to stand there being quiet and dream of returning to the
sea as an albatross on a long glide of delectation over dinner.
John Olson is the author of numerous books of poetry and (chiefly) prose poetry,
including Dada Budapest, Larynx Galaxy, and Backscatter: New And Selected Poems. He is also the author of four novels, including In Advance of the Broken Justy, The Seeing Machine, The Nothing That Is, and Souls Of Wind.