Oliver Rice


The air smells of dust.

The savanna stretches for miles,
broken by granite outcrops,
a copse of thorn beside a water hole.

The eyes of the Cape buffalo are blue.

Of the hunting dog are brown.

Of the gunman gray.


These walks are just earnest
and elevated enough to please our journals,
these episodes of the town,
the Parkinson house behind the pickets,
the monument on the square,
barberry, whitethorn, and woodbine.
Thoreau building an arbor in Emerson's garden.
The brown thrashers, the wild pigeons
in twos and threes.

They are digging a cellar on Texas Street.

Even so.

Even so.
Do you feel it?
That something else may be the case?
Something worse than disquietude
along the ridge above the Lexington road?

Among the duckweed floating on the river?


Is this quite what you have reckoned,
        such a d├ęcor, suspected odors,
    intimations of stain, a silence
        attentive to the rustle of the street
and of the mores?

How you thought the expectant person
        would pace off the afternoon?
    Toss the magazine aside?
        Skim the phone book?
    Lie across the bed, recollecting       
        the scent of mountain mahogany,
gulls at low tide?


It is the street of the nature of things.
Note how they arrange themselves
according to the stimuli,
their credulities,
their syndromes.

It is the afternoon of what happens.

Oliver Rice has received the Theodore Roethke Prize and twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His poems have appeared widely in journals and anthologies in the United States, as well as in Canada, England, Austria, Turkey, and India. His book, On Consenting to Be a Man, introduced by Cyberwit, a diversified publishing house in the cultural capital Allahabad, India, is available on Amazon.  His poems have appeared in other issues of Innisfree: http://www.authormark.com/artman2/publish/Innisfree_6_21/OLIVER_RICE.shtml



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