In Advance of the Broken Justy
by John Olson

ISBN: 978-1-935835-17-2
Perfect Bound, $18.00
Publication Date: May 2016
5.25 x 8 inches, 335 pages

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In Advance of the Broken Justy is a grievance against everything inimical to nuance and subtlety and delicacy and charm. It's a fervent attempt to reclaim a quality of attention that has been threatened to near extinction by rampant techno-narcissism. Attention, as defined by William James, "implies withdrawal from some things in order to deal effectively with others, and is a condition which has a real opposite in the confused, dazed, scatterbrained state which in French is called distraction, and Zerstreutheit in German." Zerstreuitheit, according to Olson, is a supervisor's sour gaze. It's mandatory overtime. It's having to work for a living. It's the buzz of an alarm clock dissipating a pleasant dream. It's a playground bully. It's a motorcycle gang at a rock concert. It's a cop spraying capsaicin in an elderly woman's face. It's a loud party next door when you're in bed and have to get up early to go to a job you hate. It's endless war. It's the nagging ever-present worry about climate change and corporate predation and the death of value. It's cancer. It's chemotherapy. It's Syria and Gaza and Israel and wrecked Iraq. It's smartphones, the erosion of the commons, and the obliviousness of one's fellow citizens. It's rudeness and insanity and fascism and a boot in the face. It's a neighbor's power saw ripping a quiet afternoon in half.


In Advance of the Broken Justy...

Bubbles of soapy dream float out of my mouth and drift around the room. I'm going to resurrect an irresponsibility, rub it shiny and bright with paradigms of elephant piss, and then restore the biology of the harpsichord. They say the earliest harpsichords came from Italy and were made of cypress and had a robust tone. The Italian builders were phenomenal, but it was the French who developed the performance practices of the sixteenth-century lutenists into ingenious quasi-polyphonic textures and a subtle use of arpeggiation, and made that cypress travel the light of heaven.
The trombone is an entirely different animal. It has a telescopic slide, an orotund tone and a gleaming pulchritude. The muscle of embouchure rides its reach of perfect metal to the birth of rapture. It is to the harpsichord and piano what the heron is to the estuary.
There is an ocean in me screaming to get out, a black dish on a white table, and a shore of black sand where a knot ripens in convolution. Persia is the dream I'm having now. Yesterday it was foolish lace and old barbed wire fences, a memory of snow blowing in a deviation across a highway in North Dakota. It was 1972 and pronunciation was slow as a sockeye salmon lazing under a winter sun. Later I thought of eels in an East Anglian slough. I am slender and uncontrolled. I hear a fluttering beyond the pigment, raw umber on a background of hope. I wear an empty hat and an empty sweater. They remain empty even when I am wearing them. This is their circumference. This is their delineation. Here is a feeling rendered in syllables: a coat on a hook in a barber shop. Feathers of a hawk. An alphabet of trees murmuring haiku into the night. An alphabet of broken violins below the skin gratifies the water word by word, healing the wounds of these things with thunder and ice and a bird of infrared feathers defining reality with a penumbral grace on a snowy street. I choose a brush and go to work on my hair.
I have conflicts around the creation of reality. I never deny a bud its blossom, but the language hints of an invisible structure like the hole in Noguchi's Black Sun. I hear it whirring round itself. The mind corrects the dark like a yo-yo. An adjective rips the air and yawns in a glass of water like a suitcase full of scarves and craters. There is a hurricane caught in my nerves. My other car is a bed in Paris. I'm a cemetery cat. I'm a tattoo nobody can decipher. I'm a finger pressing a button on a jukebox. I'm an immodest raw umber and soft as a ghost of hydrogen. I feel the creak of a staircase in a house that has ceased to exist.
I'm obsessing over personal injuries that I drag from place to place. The life we are in is invisible. My thinking is gray. It fulminates and whistles. I can feel a splinter beneath an old wooden bench in Montmartre. Audacity is its own reward. Metal is never introverted. It doesn't need to be. It twiddles an autumn leaf behind an arras in a Rocky Mountain dream. What amazement there is in typing. I see young girls busy with their thumbs making small messages and wonder what theaters we are when cartilage is so willing and supple and the presence of fish is so ruminative and driven. I can do marvelous things when the drums are pounding and the coupons have been well-perforated and the avocados are fresh and have the sound of drums...


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