KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 11: Spring 2019
Prose Poem: 570 words [R]

82 Buttons Unbuttoned In Bliss

by John Olson

A proposition is a statement or an assertion that expresses a judgment or an opinion. It’s a tentative and conjectural relationship with the world. With phenomena. With experience. With cookies and ants and pharmacology.

A proposition can only say how a thing is, not what it is. I can say, this is a spoon. The handle is bent because it’s been used to scoop out some ice cream from a container that’s been in the freezer for a long time and has consequently hardened into a statement such as the one I’m currently making in which a spoon is cornered into a spectacular reality, the reality of a word, which is made of sound, which is a conveyance of feeling, which is a music of raw sensation. The metal feels cold. That’s reality. The sensation of coldness is a reality. But the word “reality” and the reality of reality are sprouts of stereophonic clank. They have a moment of colorful perfume and then a distant galaxy of stars crawls through my right arm and I can feel the generosity of the thermostat twist into greater and greater quiddity.

The name represents the object. Spoon represents spoon. That is to say, a name assumes the place of an object, the alibi of the object, not the actuality of the object, which is obscured by dishwater, sudsy bubbles in a kitchen sink, and awkwardly presented to you as a word: spoon.

I do a lot of this during the course of a typical day. I make proposals. Propositions. Prepositions. I make propositions about prepositions. I use prepositions to make propositions about expositions of compositions that may be sniffed by any dog and arouse the curiosity.

This is why I like propositions. I feel the arrival of a warm darkness, the ecstasy of a fence scratched by the wind. I see the influenza tree drop tears of nebulous milk. I’m proposing a situation. Think of this as a swollen subconscious, a rolling mass of garrulity. A tree. A root. A branch of leaves. An incident of words. A sharply defined dachshund. An occurrence of vertebrae and dots. Eyes. Fur. Paws. Ears. Tongue.

Can I be your friend? Thank you.

Africa has the right idea. It has 54 countries, seven major rivers, and a very high linguistic diversity. I think I could lead a good life there. I could get up in the morning and shake the stars out of the sky. I’ve got 206 bones and a war to fight. The war against the imagination. All other wars are subsumed in it. “The ultimate famine is the starvation of the imagination.” Thank you. Thank you Diane di Prima. Thank you for fighting the good fight. And bringing such a delicious rant to the table.[*]

The big crime of the hip is full of words for the unfurling of a drowsy quadruped. I eat the heel of a dragon and ride a finger joint to the taste of a big music caused by a chorus of chameleons. I’m a thin diver of shoals. I’m an empty thought. I’m an insider and an outsider and consider the cider to be pleasantly insidious. No sitar is completely ugly if it’s also a little medical. I must go now and go to Innisfree. I smell something incendiary, something exciting and wonderful in the air. Light. Clouds. Awakening. 82 buttons unbuttoned in bliss.


—Reprinted with author’s permission from his blog, Tillalala Chronicles (20 January 2019)

*Publisher’s Note:

Quotation is by Diane di Prima, from her poem “Revolutionary Letter #75: Rant” in Revolutionary Letters (Last Gasp of San Francisco, fifth edition 2007).

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