Norman J. Olson, US




Free Verse


on the bus ride from Marco Polo Airport to Mestre


above flowers and
green ditches,
concrete buildings moldering,
I saw the spires and roof tops
of Venice through
a misty rain… riding
the five Euro bus
from VCE to the Mestre
bus station… later walking,
lost, the
Italian rain
felt warm
after Minnesota and
ten hours
on the airplane… I wondered
if Titian ever walked
here, back when it was
a farm field, maybe or
a dirt road… and marveled
at the gray white light reflected
through thinly painted



I worry about Vesuvius


65 feet up from the sea
on the deck
of a huge cruise ship… which was
like a
chandelier grown monstrously
big… I watched the volcano
near Stromboli twice
blow fire and sparks
into the clouds… the expert
said this volcano had been
erupting all through
recorded history… but
of course, that is just
an eye blink
to a volcano…



storm near Madera in the Atlantic Ocean


the huge ship with its
cargo of
aging legs, skinny
asses and tuxedos rolled
like the whole world had
come unglued… I sat on deck
three and watched the
giant waves looking, yes, just
like enormous saw teeth
turned upside down…
the old Australian guy confided
to me that he had just
had “a bit of a chuck…” but
I chewed
another anti seasickness tablet
and headed for the



almost across the Atlantic


two days out of Fort Lauderdale,
we saw a cruise ship
in the distance
like a goblet of frozen lights in the blackness
of the ocean night…
later from the back of the ship,
the moon came out,
round as any balloon,
and stepped with
slippers of light
across the turquoise path
of the ship’s wake…



driving across Alabama


after a month out
of the USA, driving from FLL
to MEM in the middle of the
night, it was good to
see familiar lights
and advertising signs… even
McDonalds… I stopped and
got a soda…

the only rental car available
was a huge Mercury… so I drove
while the others slept
and thought how American
is this, driving an enormous,
poorly engineered gas
through the warm woodsmoke
of an Alabama night… contentment
sitting in
my fat American
belly like a Moon Pie
and two Big Macs…


Read Norman J. Olson's narrative "From Venice to Fort Lauderdale and Points North"









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