Category Archives: Poetry and Prose

expressionist freeverse, punk rock lyrics, occasional ode to love, digression into nonsense, or possibly vaguely lyrical or rhyming, but not likely – maybe in cycles

Providence, lost

Sunday, Providence
grey like last week
with my bargain matinee cough syrup nod
candy coated

hold onto my thick head
next wave goes to mars
next even further
watch the clothes spin
in their fluff and dried
nebulae

i’ve tried it all on bended knees
but i’ll just think here and sit about
lost months and misplaced friends
haggard days and ice cream cones

i’ll stand here
holding nothing
try to think
how i got here
then figure where i am

i’ll stand a shady place
counting nickels

and happenstance
empty out my pockets
on the ground
you can’t trade lint
for bread and cheese

“it’s cloudier now than
its been for years”

i’ve spent days moving quickly
years dreaming loosely
and hours watching patiently
and weeks muddling and fidgeting

for the moment that is now
elsewhere
and sometime long before

  • From a lost and found journal) + for John Low on the couch { who says, “Evocative. Took me back. Rich, forlorn, our Providence, your Providence”
  • photo accompanying is desk at Koizumi Yakumo / Lafcadio Hearn’s home/museum in Matsue – there’s a pretty good chance I am him reincarnated

Postal wormholes to elsewhere #haiku 

Bend paper to find
Shortest distance between points
Or apply a stamp

{for Amber}

A Catographer, I Considered (prose poem)

A Cartographer, I Considered

Oct. 2017 North Pacific, bound southward

Spectacled, heavy on a rosy face, hidden among stacks, drawing inventions of maps – delineating frontiers between playful apparatchik and fields where the healthy and husky scrambled games I couldn’t be bothered to learn the constructed rules of play.

Naming regions of gravel and grass in derivations of Iowa towns and possibly Balkan enclaves. Tracing roads across trucking routes and Roman ruins built to the width of chariot wheels-cemented as standards for mine entrance bringing a horse to shores, away from relations to new lives, absent from home still never known beyond memories, Serio-graphed into filtered ideals.

Yet an unsteady hand and overall disconnect, or even indifference, which led to a place to “settle” – build a house from logs, and seasoned by time, after hewn, nailed and assembled by saw blade and heavy sludge, forged by a possible cousin who always remain a stranger. The blade remains anonymous as an un-muttered pithy quote en route to cliché.

Neither did exploding suns, brilliant and fleeting, assembled in patterns, ~ shared by the patient and measured in Newtonian units – still could not muster a journey – hence gazed, but ignored as impractical, nigh impossible.

Translucent layers, super-imposed and stacked, detailing azimuths, trajectories and elevations – separating fertile valleys (though subject to floods) from talus slopes too steep but for mountain rams on the shady flank of Timpanogos. 

Dotted dashed and surveyed, specific dots explained in legend denoting assigned capitals, provincial outposts, and occasionally hamlets determined by polled populations, overseen with constructed superintendents, supported by varying address of retainers. 

Intrigued by absence of obvious order though not my task to chart. 

Instead, as per instinct, selected and committed to memory, devoid of context, thin slices of knowledge swirling in a petri vacuum – accurate as such, but irrelevant 

So i journeyed to wonder about likely motivations which took Normans, Pharaohs and troubadours beyond the point of unknown return. Capes left in wakes with dates and hard-track to fortify a quest alleged to diagram flora.

Among them, I reference guide notes from decades past – as vague as possible to acquire allowing white-space and risk. Packed in burlap next to a survivor’s stove and pouch of seeds and spices and an important black pencil. Only planned to go one way, impartial to return rather to chronicle the unfamiliar.

The familiar left far behind as physics might allow – exchanged possible comfort in normalcy for uncertainty contentment in ambiguity. Meandering concentric routes, devoid of patterns or ready purpose. 

Answers are easier in cliché, ergo:

“I’ll know when i get there” – 

Town to creek to roadside conundrum – I swirled each in mouth , pretending my palette featured a vocabulary to explain to unseeing why I hadn’t settled for seemingly ideal locales, situations and specific circumstance to flourish.

Eventually, after farm toil, beach frolic, rough nights in dangerous morass, leaping turrets of ruins and painful heaving, missed junctions and forgotten aims, at a campfire in a lake-forest with a khaki-scout familiarity, I stumbled through an unfavourable gale, onto the intended coast 

I mocked myself for misnamed non-discoveries, i assumed as fragrant promised lands of plenty allowed to the intrepid erstwhile accidental navigators. 

Teased over misread hieroglyphics and misappropriated meaning to stone wheels quarried a far, hauled by double-hulled craft powered by taro and current and fickle breeze.

I could no longer mock with unearned disdain, the vaunted and faulted explorers, stolen secrets leading to some anomaly errantly pro-claimed as new or proper or divine. 

Earnestly deterred, i occurred to map a universe of flesh and thought. Breath and sounds assembled into meaning. 

The crease on cheek, the measure of brow, the angle of toes, magnitude of halo surrounding chameleon eyes and the mysterious enthusiasm of all which exists between.

Thwarted, not by scenery but by shaking confessions, fumbled after a stealth crossing at an indifferent frontier town. I’d escaped to my holy land I presumed for an instant before minor catastrophe. 

Stalled at an unwelcoming inn where i laid myself bruised and bare to a lover temporarily transformed to a stranger after i let the truth languish, vanquished by the uncertainty of resolved and fear or wounding the occasionally innocent. 

She walked out vested, blithely, pithy saying “I know” unwittingly perhaps offering just enough loft to push a tattered sail across a colour-coded sea mis-named as somewhere calm. 

The explorer hides. Alone, entirely lost and surrendered to fates incomprehensible to the battered. Uncontrollable by the hostage. Yet clinging to an adrenaline determination to manufacture strength to another foray. 

Monk-like, minus faith, discipline, dogma or skill at ringing bells, relying on rice gruel and fragrant hope, the cartographer gathered charcoal, fired for unsteady hands, and a redrew boundaries to conceive an entirely new Pangea with concessions to speculate, plunder and charts assigned exclusively to only two.

daveo, Oct. 2017 North Pacific, bound southward

 

Haiku: Graves & Trains

Graves & Trains

Rubbing faded kanji

From mossy tilted Edo graves

Shinkansen shooshes past

I picked you flowers (painting & poem)

Gravelly Beach, 2005, oil on canvas, Dave Olson

Picked you some flowers while I was out

Placed in a vase, slightly chipped

Perhaps you and the blooms will enjoy the view

I’ll be outside chopping wood

Waiting, not Riding

Waiting for a train
Alone amongst a billion
Just to pass by, not to ride

No where to go
But to my healing room.
Not the Darjeeling Limited
but moreorless the same
sweet lime or milk chai
your choice, 6 Rp
Moreorless.

Train rolls by
I jump a tuktuk
He drops me off
Somewhere wrong.

Watercolours & oil pastels, Trippunithura, Kerala, India, 2016 (thank you Dr. Veena)

In process / tea cup for watercolours
Tuk tuk in general direction
Station from bench

Haiku – *unconfidential* kokoro postcard (variations)

Often, a poem comes out fully-formed, fiddling and remixing only dulls the knife, sometimes however, variations are eager to come out to shine light in another corner: Lonely, Joyful, Melancholy, Mysterious.

In this case, (my) familiar themes of un-confidential love letters on postcards mailed from foreign places and glanced by – or maybe sadly not glanced – by personnel along the way who (may) add their pathos to the journey. 

One version of this (do you care to guess which?) will go on the reverse of the post box at Farmer Mac’s goat farm – Perhaps another painting will follow… and then a postcard a photograph of the painting mailed to the post box and so on. Always be remixing. 

No pardons for redundancies, variations on a theme require riffs on the same blues.

Do you care to posit which your prefer? 

Annotations: Regarding Japanese-inspired Poetry

Consider the words
Write them once, only –
In a single inky sweep
On tactile paper
Then add a flower
Close the book
For now

&/or do none of the above

(from summer 2018 Moleskine accordion notebook “when everything changed”)

Poem: How Shall We Fill This Vessel? (excerpt for Sheila + Kemp, 10 year)

“How Shall We Fill This Vessel?”

(excerpt of poem – written by me – read at Kemp and Sheila’s wedding vow ceremony)

really unrelated snap, as it goes a tea shack in Sri Lanka

Now, all is deliciously possible
A present to savour
A history to grow
A future to whittle
To any possible shape

So,
How shall we fill this vessel?

Devoid of cynicism and ego,
Jealousy or restraint
With rambunctious affection
In all possible forms
To manifest and articulate
Unabashed tactile Love.

Shall we fill with endless notes
Of spontaneous jazz and
Distant gazes from close range?
Slow dances to quick songs
Languid mornings following
Smouldering nights?

Celebration of the commonplace?
Anticipation of usual happenstance?
Easy banter about nuanced topics?
On verandahs and gazebos a like
Replete with warm drinks
And cool touch?

With fond hellos and
Infrequent goodbyes
As we seek nowhere to go
Desire no escape
In darkness and rain
All yearnings were sent away

Marrow and soul
Now have a purpose, a place
A place to dwell
With you, always
As together we fill
This vessel
Full.

– daveo, Pokhara, Nepal 2017
(photo: Sri Lanka, 2018)

Poem: post office closed (again)

Poem: post office closed (again)

Post office closed
(again)
You’ll need another
day to know
you are loved
by a lost poet
without a watch

Folio: Hotsprings and Stubbed Toe / occasional haiku, 2004

Hotsprings and Stubbed Toe / Occasional haiku… 1992~2004, cover (download pdf)

Download poetry chapbook (pdf): Hotsprings + Stubbed Toe, by Dave Olson, 2004

Folio: January in the Hot Springs / haiku and paint, 1993-5

Folio: January in the Hot Springs / haiku and paint, 1993 / front cover

After arriving in Japan for the first time, i began exploring Japanese poetic forms – realizing that the didactic 5-7-5 structure *wasn’t the point* /  Then combining with impressionist colours seen on a recent ramble in Europe, Read it a series combining, in a fashion, Japanese forms with European colours and “new-world” themes.

Then with brother Bob’s upcoming wedding, compiled a bunch of these creations into a little book and read (with translation) at his wedding (mostly to blank stares of bewilderment.

A few years later in Guam, did a proper layout and production run (maybe 50?) and mailed the chapbooks out around the world. Used hemp/cereal straw paper from China (ordered from Paul Stanford in Oregon) which was rough going through copy machines of the day –especially my complicated double-sided / zigzag layout with topstitch binding – of course sewn with hemp twine.

I don’t have one of the “finished ones” in my archive, but do have the original layout production master / will eventually dig out > in the meantime, here is the cover (not hemp paper) + Pay special attention to my proto-Creative-Commons non-copyright on the erstwhile colophon and the pseudonym (do you know the origins?)

Folio: January in the Hot Springs / haiku and paint, 1993 / colophon

While I have few delusions about my poetry chapbooks being “popular” this one especially seems to have disappeared into the wind with nary a sound (despite it being one of the projects of which i am most proud).

Folio: January in the Hot Springs / haiku and paint, 1993 / back cover (with pseudonym)

Note: a few of these poems were used/re-mixed in a collection from 2004 (assembled in Olympia) called “Hotspring and Stubbed Toe” which was distributed digitally and will be available shortly in this archive as part of #daveo50 series.