He idles at the stoplight,
broods on the scene
about which he has fantasized for years,
in which he has it out with his father.
Passes a moving van from out of state,
cringes at the image
of the notebooks in the old briefcase,
a diary of the raw stuff,
telling events on the right hand pages ---
attitudes, atmospheres, silences,
talk, real and imagined ---
and sometimes on a facing page
an attempt to explain, to justify his father.
Turns right off the boulevard
to drive home through the old neighborhood.
They have left the streetlamps
just bright and forlorn enough to darken the shadows,
patient and uncomprehending as the avid reader’s collie,
to watch that the world does not escape,
that tresspassers do not assault their hibernation,
this population of microcultures,
who sleep without remorse,
abandoning the mores, reason, each other,
submitting to oblivion or, entranced,
to the cinematics of the subconscious.
Meanwhile the library is catalogued,
the law is codified,
the morning waits for the collective will to reengage.
Observes himself at the next citizen doorway,
reassuming his semiofficial persona,
a mannerly agent of the commonweal.
Observes himself deliberately attentive to task,
to signals of hostility to this probing,
occasionally apologizing for the tedium,
giving assurances that the data is confidential
and of great value to the government,
his undermind meanwhile receiving impressions
of the dwelling, the familial atmosphere,
the personalities of the occupants,
their contents, their discontents.
Observes himself outside the doorway again,
departing into the late afternoon,
his anima anthropological, liberated
to take his own census of the streets,
the perils of the era,
a demography of the ironies,
the allegories in the news,
the nuances of the fables,
the litter of discarded moments.
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.
His work has appeared numerous times in Offcourse.