Sunday, March 12, 2017


Jelly blooms in my hand like a sweatshirt. I can pay my bills now. I’ll pay them with corks and vignettes. I’ll pay them with pretty little tales about my life and times as the captain of a shoe. There’s a science to sparkling, and this leads me to think of pleasure as a class of fugitive sensation punctuated by hotels and minivans. The bills arrive later in the mail.
Money assumes strange forms. Sometimes it’s cowrie shells. Sometimes it’s a negotiable instrument and sometimes it’s a cow. The Fula People of West Africa use coin belts. The Maori used pigs and potatoes.
Imagine pigs as loose change. Pockets stuffed with spuds. Imagine a language in which heaven and hell rub together like ravens and the words are in love with their own illusions.
Genesis is the name of the young woman in charge of housewares. She looks like Elsa Lanchester in The Bride of Frankenstein. People are afraid to go into the housewares department. Everything is dusty. Genesis stands in the center aisle between rows of pots and pans staring into space with blood-red eyes, electricity crackling around her body.
You can buy a good sauce pan for a pig if Genesis is in a good mood. Otherwise, money is just foolish and the impulse to buy anything is better kept as a secret. The work of our organs is the work of our organs. Immediate certainty, the thing in itself, be it a saucepan with a domed glass lid or a thermodynamic handshake with a heartwarming ohm, is interspersed with molecules whose component atoms justify their doodles in cheerful museums.
One day, I hope to explore space as a NASA astronaut. Though I would settle for being Superman and getting free coffee at Starbucks in exchange for saving planet Earth from being stuck by a gigantic asteroid.
I would ride that asteroid into Omaha and get a room at the Bored Bug Hotel. Even the bear comes down from the mountain when he’s hungry.
Have you had contact with the supernatural lately? Ghosts? Poltergeists? Snapping turtles? Yesterday a dark bank of clouds rolled up the Mississippi at about 11:00 a.m. A few minutes later it began raining heavily. The river swelled. The waters rose. When they receded, we were in Paris, floating down the Seine.
I’m not saying this was supernatural. I’m just saying that if we need to verify whether such and such a thing exists we need to examine our own complicity in the construction of our experience. Who can look at a river and not feel that river moving through their body? A thought may be nothing, nothing in itself, but if it’s a thought about something, that something might be a vapor, or a Lincoln Continental, and invite our speculation further, so that it becomes a vowel or a story about a vowel, a tray of ice cubes in which a vowel might milk a consonant for its jewels.
When a representation about the world makes that world a world and not just another waiting room in a dentist’s office, makes Beings become Beings, words become words, the pure gaze of the reader can be applied to its inventions without restriction to the world of an imperious grammar of Being, to nuclei of indecomposable meanings, webs of sticky hindsight.
I am implicit in these words. But I am not entirely within their compass either. I am at the periphery. I am in the margin, peering in. Floating among the reeds.


SpectacularBooks said...

Hi John,

I'm writing here, rather unconventionally, in the hopes that you might be able to put me in touch with Roberta Olson, whose poetry appeared in Explosive Magazine in 1999. We're publishing an anthology of work from the magazine, and we're hoping to ask her permission to reprint these poems. If you'd be able to pass on our request, or put us in touch with her, our email address is spectacularbooks [at] gmail [dot] com . Thank you so much!

- Victoria Kornick

John Olson said...

Sure, no problem.