Friday, July 05, 2019

An Elephant of Awareness

—Poems and Visuals by Norman J. Olson, Maplewood, MN


The sky beyond broken buildings slips
the thighs of evening.  A low-rent
Batman locks eyes with lover boy (or
lover girl) and feral cats eviscerate
field mice
his look.

The bus driver studies bible prophesies
and figures the end is coming soon.  Last
summer, he cut two fingers off with his
table saw.  For a while there, he thought
the end was coming

Batman distends as bumps in the street
massage his cancerous prostate.  Lover
girl (or boy) looks out
the window
where roses bloom in the snow.

impression of Ostend

the carnival ride
was called, “Mission Space.”
set up in empty space
in front of the
old cathedral, it whirled people
in a red and blue circle
almost as high as
the old gray gothic towers…

a fat lady in a low-cut
black dress with round rouged cheeks
and scarlet lips
sashayed by
looking for an Ensor painting
to jump

on visiting the HR Giger Museum in Gruyeres, Switzerland, April 27, 2008
my fingers twitched
patterns of black shapes
in webs and layers of translucent
hours crawled up the walls like spiders. 
a cute boy in a black
shirt typed
cryptic equations into a
cash register and light slipped through the
like a ghost made of alpine snow.

airbrushed rivets and girders beat bound flesh with straps and snakes

I imagined the staircase
without walls, my knee hinges flexing
on rubber steps.  in my scalded skull, a dizzy brain
as I stumbled upward 
on a flimsy staircase high above the
and the camera cobbled streets.  mountains
in the distance danced
like zombie teeth
and the sun shone
like the glazed
dazed eye of a Geneva junkie
as the needle digs
again into the familiar ruin
of flesh poisoned, decaying and
torn by
terrible dreams.  invisible screams
whirled in the mountain


There is no expiation. There is no
interdiction. There are only crows
roosting in the crabapple tree. The
apocalypse turns out to be a
cellular problem and the soul
is nothing but a bowl
of chemical soup.

Somebody give Bernini a Martini...

Neatly trimmed lawns curse
the sod that pounds
grass up into the naked air.
Grass grows best in rotting flesh but
fertilizer will do.
The raucous birds cry and that is the only
benediction the atomic number of carbon
has to give.
God is pushing a lawnmower across the
pellucid sky. Sixteen-year-old girls have saddled
up the apocalyptic horses and are riding
among the pastel houses. They cannot see that the
gene pool has become an oblong swimming
pool filled with acid rain, dead
cats and chlorine.
My hands are shaking even as I type this....
Cathedrals of bones are floating above the
holy Ganges which is
desperately polluted. Words fall from my fingers
like shit from the asshole of the damned
but still,
I carry an elephant of awareness on my back.
Capitalist birds are gobbling sunlight
like they
own a thermonuclear furnace and happy
crows are roosting in the
twisted blades of the crabapple


The black and bottomless
sky wears a blue mask
and thermonuclear
eyeballs gleam
like suns.  Gray
asphalt is
flipping photons
into deep wells of space
and time.
A maroon
truck stops at a red
light, right outside of
Ryan’s bar and a gray car
gleams with dull surprise.
licks the masks
in the crowd
and tiptoes from
sheet metal to the
stratosphere, unwinding
faster than time and slowly


Today’s LittleNip:

—Norman J. Olson

Every blade of grass
be happy to grow in my rotting
flesh. Every crow squawking at
roadside would stand on my face and
peck out my dead eyes.


Our thanks and welcome back to Norman Olson, all the way from Minnesota, with his startling poems and imagery from his
Forty-Four Image Poems (

Cross over the Causeway to Davis tonight for Poetry in Davis, featuring Nebraska State Poet Laureate Matt Mason plus open mic, 8pm, at the John Natsoulas Gallery. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about this and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.

—Medusa, celebrating the vivid imagery that poetry can bring us

 Norman and some of his work

Photos in this column can be enlarged by
clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.