Oliver Rice

But About Sanctuary, Sustenance


Ultimately, announces Taylor,

it is not about Daniel Boone

but about profundities deep in the primal brain,


not about the boy so enamored of the forest

but about Eden and Yellowstone,

about wooded estates and Boy Scouts,


not the rifle he was given at eleven

but the cave paintings at Altamira,

zoos, safaris, and trophies in the den,


not about Kentucky nor Missouri

but nomadry, acquisition,

prowess, myth-making, destiny,


nor, indeed, declares Taylor,              

            about one flawed man,

            seizing the privilege

            of absenting himself

            for months and years

            from wife and ten children,

            proving himself feckless

            at any occupations

            except trekking and warring,


            but about enlarging reveries

            that a common fellow

            might have uncommon gifts.


Lightning, Rainbows


On the day he will retire from a noxious occupation,

he wakes at dawn,

the sun still below the horizon,

the first pale rays of its nuclear fusion

radiating into the shadows of successive meridians.


I do look younger than my age,

and feel it, he declares to the bathroom mirror,

the photons of fluorescence reflected off his face,

into the glass and back to his retina.


I am taking back my mind,

my identity,

my vigors, he announces to the kitchen window,

to the brightening world, the prism of all color,

flora and fauna,

lightning and rainbows,


all electromagnetism, combustion,

incandescence and phosphorescence,

refraction, diffraction, polarization,


all energized atoms.



Lincoln's Last Day


For the third week in a Gettysburg motel,


the leaves, the weather turning,


the playwright confronts his less than two hours

of real time on the stage

to create a compelling essence of the man

in the thirteen hours of fantasy time

from his awakening by his deceased son's voice

to his departure for the theater.


At the diner, the college library,


mingling with the culture's youth and age,

and with his own,


the playwright importunes his craft

to outwit all contrary legends of Abe,

to deny actors and spectators all distractions,

and so engage their utter selves

that their reverie times will be touched forever.





Elegantly clad,

they throw flowers over themselves

as they parade through Bangkok.


Why would they do that?


The elephants?


Their keepers?


The spectators?



With Karbacher on Cumberland Island


He descended from the ferry exclaiming

to the restless beaches, the tree tops,

the sea turtles and skittering plovers,

we come to confirm what elevates the human,


strode the trails of the wild horses declaring

we are attuned for ideas that do not repent,

for soul-searching instruments

that look one in the eyes,


mounted a hummock to summon

ideas that interrogate themselves,

autonomous, luminous,


listened for echoes from the dunes,

the wavering marshes, the live oak groves,


from the spirits of Indian chiefs,


boarded the ferry calling back

to the armadillos and racoons.

Oliver Rice's poems appear widely in journals and anthologies in the United States and abroad. Creekwalker released an interview with him in January 2010. His book of poems, On Consenting to Be a Man, is published by Cyberwit 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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