Oliver Rice

Episode in a Drifting Canoe

Things unseen rustle, plop, cheep.

A hawk flashes through the trees.

Minnows flutter in the shallows.

They do not know it is Thursday,
these my cousins, afar removed,
furred, scaled, barked, feathered, shelled,
care nothing for the wobbly orbit of Earth.

A bluejay perches nearby,
makes a raucous declaration, flies away.
The world could have done without him,
I say to the covert populace.

Without you, as well, I answer for them,
saying exactly to the spider,
skimming across the still-water pool.

Tolerate us, I say to the warbler in the tree tops,
our congenital, insufficient, erratic psyches,
our great-spirited aspirations.
Forgive our exploits, menacing as fire or storm.



As if from Other Lives


Someone is stirring the pasta gravy.

Is walking through River Park.

Is dressing for an appearance at court.


Self-consciousness roams the streets.


Someone shouts at a barking dog.

Is searching the catalogue at the library.


Self-consciousness may or may not

perceive its credulities, its ambiguities.


Someone is late, is addled, has a migraine.


Self-consciousness may or may not conceive,

from certain scenes in recurrent dreams,

that numerous bizarre views of experience

may be lodged in itself, as if from other lives,


Minoan, Saxon, Etruscan, Gallic, Slavic.


Someone works out at the YMCA.

Is playing cards with a terminal neighbor.



A Fantasy of Many Cities

   A tympanist working up Tchaikovsky,

   elderly women squatting in a souk,
   tattooed, selling bread,

the mind's theater mounting scenes
of the past gnawing into the future,

   an ancient wall scarred by bullets,    

   a tavern where a ruined poet
   had a last drink before expiring,

here in the vicinity of brief clarities
and music one had not conceived,

   a cruise ship in a harbor,

   children collecting litter in a park
   where pet thrushes are brought to sing,

civilization encountering itself,
groping along its confines,

   an esplanade above a river,

   a melee, a clamor in a medina,
   hawkers, acrobats, shrewd healers,

the urgencies sounding their annals,
their myths for a human agenda,

   a soccer stadium grown up in weeds,

   a woman who is not merely a female
   but an illusion of all the graces.



            His restrained, ironic fa├žade, they say,
            his entangled, turbulent life, they say

of him whose childhood was dominated
by his father's cruelty and his siblings' love.

            He creates a form of wonder,
            he humanizes us, they say,           

who had a youth's apt curiosity about his city,
its provincialities, from playhouse to brothel.

            The ordinary existence he portrays
            has a kind of horror in it, they say,

whose young manhood was blighted by calls
for aid to his family in their fecklessness.

            His tender, charming smile,
            the evil fire in his eyes, they say,

who supported himself through medical school
by writing sketches for the popular press.

            He promises we shall know the truth
            and it shall make us despair, they say,

who practiced medicine intermittently,
toured widely, wrote and philandered variously.

            He gave narrative fiction a new ambiguity,
            a density and subtle poetry, they say,

who at twenty-seven published The Steppe,
a first evidence of serious literary intent.

            The poet of hopelessness,

if there is pity, it is astringent, they say,

whose Seagull was first staged in Moscow
ten years later to immense acclaim.

Oliver Rice's poems have appeared widely in the United States and abroad. An interview with Creekwalker was released by that zine in January 2010. His book of poems, On Consenting to be a Man, from Cyberwit, is offered on Amazon. His online chapbook, Afterthoughts, Siestas, and his recording of his The Institute for Higher Study went up on Mudlark in December 2010.




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Bruce Bennett

Brent Calderwood

Ann Cale

Sarah Crossland

Philip Dacey

Tiffanie Desmangles

Moshe Dor on Rod Jellema

Lucia Galloway

Jane Ellen Glasser

Barbara Goldberg on Charles Simic

Joey Goodall

Heidi Hart

Richard Harteis

RJ Hooker

Glenn Irwin

Catherine Jagoe

LuAnn Keener-Mikenas

Jean L. Kreiling

Mercedes Lawry

Lyn Lifshin

Greg McBride on David Salner

Miles David Moore

Sherry O'Keefe

Jane Olmsted

Marie Pavlicek-Wehrli

Simon Perchik

Kathleen Radigan

Oliver Rice

David Salner

Lynda Self

Peter Serchuk

Janice D. Soderling

Ellen Steinbaum

Tim Suermondt

Kim Cope Tait

Brigit Truex

Michael J. Whelan

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