The Northville Review
an online literary journal
juxtaposed fragmented knowledge

Scott Oliver

Can I try freebasing meditation? Each time
I try to purse my lids, I only find
that the zippers stick. The bags holding
my ivory-brown bowling balls in are stretched thin.

I can’t make things well—waters rush
while under my bridge. My bell doesn’t toll.
It wasn’t made hollow. I try to meditate.
I treat my breaths like cartons of eggs,
counting the whole, won’t throw back the cracked.

I keep even the ones that match the aftermath of a sniper’s shot and shatter—
our widow (no-longer-first-lady)
as she was sent scrambling to grab handfuls
of her husband. I’m losing my mind. I’m locked behind
the finish of that Lincoln’s trunk. Jackie tramples & tidies.
She tries not to look at herself in the high gloss polish,

I try to forget those
Fragments of

Never forget the precedents. I sit here with
my carton of eggs balanced on my over-crossed legs.
My arms wide open to the prospect of calm.
I try to flip closed the circuit, silence this synaptic shout that stains our mores at cellular
levels, beveling brain waves like cliché laden phrases slain and laid onto the pages.

Wrinkles never come out when I’m ironing irony.
Numb-thumbed, I forcibly unfold old found-origami,
the ideas that crimped this mind of mine, the ones
that never quite fit (an odd cut). I Remember, Remember the II prongs of September—
tragedy that can never be forgot; each tower tumbled to the ground, zero space left in its spot.

Is this counter intuitive, or not? Is this counterintuitive, or what?

Any good neural net really needs a hole in it; I need to catch my breath just to hold on to it.
Still. I know if meditation was tangible I’d buy, steal and borrow
all those slow counted breaths, beget them soft winded rhymes.
I’d be an addict, a cat lady, a hoarder of hot air and syllables, homeless with a cart
full of calm like puffed bronchiole, but meditation is not FDA approved.
Those amber plastic childproof bottles never quite closed right,
the medication already removed.

* * * * *


Fuck all of your preconceived notions, those old blow-your-load-too-soon ideas you have about a given poem or poetry in general—stolen from him, from her, from them, from whomever & only partially understood. Poetry’s definition in the dictionary should go just above war & right below love, because to define something simply as poetry—so raw, so powerful, so cliché—is to ensure that you’ll have no fucking clue what you’re talking about, let alone have the knowledge of how to navigate what you’ve gotten yourself into. But, you see, ignorance has no mute….If you asked Shakespeare of his sonnets which one was best, meant the most, yadda yadda, I bet you’d get a quill, an ink well, & some velvet shoved up your ass. Man, you suck! So, this is for you haters: maybe you were right all along; nevertheless, it is your fault! So, I invite you to relearn what you ought to have skipped, doodled over, slept through, in Freshman Lit. You see, poetry is too far away to grasp but if you forget your route or choose to stop, it’ll meet you half way. Cheers.

About the author

Scott Oliver is a poet, a victim of verse. He is currently a student of the MFA program at Rutgers University. He teaches composition at TCNJ and at Camden County College. His poetry has appeared in "Richard Stockton Overdrive," several college and university journals, and in newspapers around the country. Scott has also written for several independent comics, some of which can be found on the illustrator's website ( the art expos MOCCA and SPX, as well as at Jim Hanley's Universe. Scott also blogs for Third Face ( along with some of the sickest writers and thinkers around.