Oliver Rice

Auras of Wittgenstein


Nonetheless, Marie, Gerard,

the subjunctive, the pluperfect, the gerunds

confirm the distances of snow,

berries ripening in the night,

fields of sunflowers taller than a man.

Notwithstanding, as Nietzsche said,

the interrogatives sustain the breathing afternoon,

                                    the listening ardors,

            the schools of old wisdom.

                                    And our hereness,

who cannot save ourselves.


Nonetheless, Hernando, Annette,

the comparative, the particles, the colon

acclaim the catalogue of caresses,

auras of Darwin and Freud,

streets that interrogate themselves.

Notwithstanding, as Nietzsche said,

                                    the rushing psyche,

            a conscience for everything.

                                    And our hereness,

who cannot save ourselves.



       Herself on a Boat for Oslo


Henry David Thoreau, Cancer,

William de Kooning, Taurus,

Carl Jung, Leo,

she recites to her rear view mirror,

to the graces along Lake Shore Drive,

to her manicure,


to her earnest, her examined life,

Sara, practicing adult single,


who gropes along the confines of the culture,

among images of intellect and bravura,

undeceived by her education

nor her biorhythms.


Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev, Scorpio,

she announces to the stimuli on Michigan Avenue,

said he was unable to simplify himself.


She is a Gemini, like Robert Schumann,

like Ralph Waldo Emerson,

she muses, waking in her flannel pajamas,


whose psyche reads the headlines from America

in a café by the Volga,

a flat near the Piazza San Marco,

a strange corner of India.


Sagittarius, Winston Churchill, Mark Twain,

she announces to the Tribune Tower,

Aries, Thomas Jefferson, Joseph Haydn.


Oh, she is no auxiliary person,

gaping at existence,

consenting to the ironies,

to the mores,


hostage to love's promises,

to her glands,

to unremitting conjugality.


She can feel the private motions of her genes

forming in her sleep.

Is prepared for ferocious decisions.


The human mind, said E. M. Forster, Capricorn,

is not a dignified organ.


The freedom is utterly hers,

she declares to the zones of the city,

to choose among the sperm bearers,

Libras, Pisceans,

bikers, technocrats, timpanists,

Virgos, Aquarians,


to strategize a liaison,

her impregnation,

and an enlightened single parenthood.


To whom a sense comes,

in Lincoln Park, in Beverly,

ironing, listening to Otello,

of disquietude,


of rain on the roofs of Pointe-a-Pitre,


of herself street smart in Istanbul,


herself in a flesh colored bikini.






said Jung,


is the sound the universe makes

when it is pleased with its being.


Intimating, one presumes,

its oblivious interiority,


its perfect empathy for the idea of itself,

for the utter consummation of its intent.



the cry of the vulture, they say,


circling above the ridgeline,

the sloping meadow,


the arching maples,

imitates the moans of the dying.



The Senator's Aide has Retired


And although precautiously,

has removed himself to other rooms,

unfamiliar faucets, night noises,

slant of light for the news,


has grown studious of his rituals,

the arrangement of his socks,

the protocol for his crossword.

Perceives himself quickened by discontents,


by a dissidence in his fantasies.


Idles, even so, through an afternoon,

skimming the Sunday travel and arts

to strains of the classics.

Thinks of the Kentucky Derby,

the chapel of Matisse,

the scent of mountain mahogany,

his grandfather's griddle cakes.



the old engagement insists.




The morning wakes to restless agendas.

It is his birthday or he is going to the bank

or the miners are on strike.


Cambodians arrive in Milwaukee.

Frost threatens the peaches.


Trivial machines litter the culture.

Cartels are seizing the world.




The day roams the avenues of the states,

Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut,


Foggy Bottom, Lafayette Square,

vicinities, doorways where the national fables,

where the restless probabilities loiter,

where the vivid dead have left their signs.


He goes, faculties poised,

anonymous and free,

a superfluous, an outmoded,

an implicated man attired for self-realization

on the Metro, about the Mall,


seeking rumors of causalities, of ironies shaping,

of eras breaking out,


aspiring so late to be authentic,

to be temperate and venerable

and at risk,


to think in a Norwegian way about America,

a Swahili, an Etruscan,

an Alaskan, a Mississippian,

to confront the land as it lies,

the Alleghanies, the Platte, the Mojave,


eelgrass flats,

pine barrens,

a creek in the high pasture,


a pink bungalow,

a shack with a cot and a broken chair.




Who, even so, at the hearings, at the Corcoran,

finds childhood angers in his head.


Queer fragments of anthropology.


Who rises early some mornings

to have breakfast in a diner with workmen.

Goes occasionally to Lincoln Center.


Shares the right of the streets

with shrewd vulgarians.


Sends gifts to his nephews.

Oliver Rice's poems have appeared widely in journals and anthologies 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, is offered by Cyberwit, in Allahabad, India, and is available on Amazon. His online chapbook, Afterthoughts, Siestas, and his recording of his Institute for Higher Study appeared in Mudlark in December 2010.



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