​​H E R M E N E U T I C   C H A O S   J O U R N A L

Olivia olson

​Alice Watching Bookshelves As She Falls

Things He Left v.1: Three (3) Mason Jars of Iced Coffee, Labeled. 

The caffeine shoos the blood like a mad woman
with a broom. 

The blood gathers in the cheeks, in the finking bruises, cells
seeking safety in numbers. 

Things He Left v.2: The Dining Set, Dark Brown. 
The straightbacked chairs posture, unforgiving— 
they can’t stand a curve away

from the memory of pine, dignified in the tradition
of growing, throwing shade. 

Things He Left v.3: Dust, or All That Dead Skin. 

The parabola vacuum lines lose focus, start choking, 
can’t contain all that once was 

young, all that once was growing, all that now 
nestles in the grains. 

Things He Left v.4: The Shelves Themselves

The nails sank in obediently, the screws
hold the lines

in place. The jagged skyline of spines stand straight, proud 
to pin truth down, make it wait just long enough: 

the second hand jerks its way around the face like a stone
kicked all the way home. 

Where the Days Go, and Things Disappear

​They say someone will narrate my
ultrasound so I’ll know what I’m

giving up. I may need you 
there, to plunge my stomach and restart 

my shy pulse, or tilt my face out
the window to the sun sinking.     

No wonder poets keep seeing
that horizon as a mouth: it is both 

saying and swallowing. Days keep going
down it: all is tongue,

there:  restless, fevered
tongue.               It opens wide

in invitation, and we want to go 
there, too.           It's got to be escape

from stop signs,            laundry, 
trips to the                  vet and 

the dentist. Once, I could hear
that poem in the vague horizon. But

listen to what it’s saying:
the days just keep going

down its gullet: It’s better to look
at the sky than to live there

There, where the days keep going
obediently.     There, the days just keep going,

a marathon of exhausted
days, staccato and lonely—

no night to bless or bundle them. Worn
and ended days, still going. 

Olivia Olson is a poet and librarian working in metro Detroit. Some of her recent poems can be found in Spry Literary Journal and Driftwood Press. She is the editor of SiDEKiCK Literary Journal, which works to publish underrepresented voices in poetry.