Friday 17 March 2023

Five Poems by John Harold Olson


Life is beautiful and tissue thin


The black bear and her cubs

travel a full day through enemy country

to reach

a tangle of blackberries


The raven and her mate 

break the woods into a grid, 

follow the hunter from above,

and glide in after the bloody 

hunter clears out


Early one morning while 

following tracks,

see a startled herd of

whitetails break from

their tender ferns

and flee past me

like a river.


Twin herons

fly low over the deck,

right through the beech grove,

the woods tremble in ecstasy.


Grazing head freezes

and the apple eating 

summer buck 

vanishes from the orchard.

Fields of Mighty War


“I was so tired, I told my Mother,

“that I could read people’s minds

As they got on the bus.”


“I know,” she said, “I’m the same way.”


People jaywalking in Congress St. 

at lunch time, 

I hear “Fields of Mighty War”

in my overheating brain while waving 

at my ex-girlfriend across

the street.


No shadow on noon street,

just going to lunch at the bar,

then shoot a flash game of 8 ball,

loose tie and cigarettes,

I am trying to live

my minutes.


A block away,

next to the aquamarine river,

my Grandfather shovelled coal

in the sun.


“We better get back,” someone says.


How did we get off that break-down lane?


The trailer jumped the hitch

on the Chicago Skyway

and scared the hell out of us.

Punched a hole in the tailgate,

Punched another in the differential.


That night, my mother-in-law made me coffee

And we smoked cigarettes.

My wife held my hand.

My little daughter tumbled on the carpet.


How did we get off that break-down lane?

A lady made a call.

The gospel choir blue bus

With “Trust Jesus” on the side.

Saturday afternoon, and the wrecker driver

knew a guy who could braze the

hole in the differential. 


The sun had a beautiful goodbye,

and God was the drummer in the back,

in the dark.



Mistakes reappear and make him

speak dream talk, 

a coda to memory dreams that require 



The mind takes it’s time,

will arrange its ducks on a misty pond.


Wake up in the dark,

an old man

listens to the rain.


That’s good. He thinks,

we need that rain.


The pond grows.

The man dozes.

The ducks take off

And fly away.



God, my love

Is deep, stormy and private.

I’m not looking for

the missing piece.

I need a machine shop

grinding my grooved shoes on Sunday.

Changing the front brakes

beneath a fender tarp, 

Snow blows angry, 

opaque sky,

I’m doing my best

out here, dammit.

John Harold Olson - Is a retired Special Education teacher in Las Vegas. Transitioning to being a hospice volunteer.


  1. Nice ones . Breakdown Lane in particular resonates with me.


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