Rivers Start As Threads

by John Olson

Rivers start as threads

Of water in the mountains

Tumbling down in inexpressible purity

To become tea or coffee

Words are the residue

Of a long incubation

Let's talk about God

Fireworks in all the colors of the spectrum

The poet chisels the air

With the roar of a wildcat in an antique store

Pain is sometimes a diversion

Or a simple drink of water

I struggle every day against the embarrassment

Of the pump on my grandparent's farm

Eyeballs and olives and other beautiful spheres

Balance it out

With the taste of rain

The rivers of China

Are radical as ants

Even the lobster has a purpose

On a spectral farm with spectral cows

Drink the sky

Hoist a sentence on your tongue

A word emerging from the tip of a pen

A broken beer bottle in the street

A poem written in 1971

Teleological as the color yellow

Tendencies of deep affection bubble at the surface

Of a dime on the coffee table

An abalone gliding in a mountainous wave

Is the eye in the wind

Of a soul in a storm

Dissonance is indispensable

Observes Marcel Proust in a rowboat

I hold in my hand a fire

Forged in the pathos

Of cause and effect

Because the sky is crying

And poetry is a suitcase

Full of soothing walls

And a voice hanging in the air

Here for instance is a pair of pants

With belt buckle in the form of a swan

The curtain rises on a pair of lovers

And Erica Jong in an airplane

Jotting everything down

Fondling the vapor

Of the human breast

In a motel room in Omaha

All the rivers are nerves

Of light flaming into space