ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Oliver Rice


This being irrevocably the world,
skies the indicative colors for sensibility,

intuitions emerging from the airscape,
humanistic as gargoyles,

Virginia Woolf never met D. H. Lawrence,
but twice glimpsed him from a distance,

time familiar as breath, enigmatic as soul,
light abruptly falling on actuality,

once when their train stopped
in the early morning outside Rome,

psyche sifting, sifting itself,
confronting its discontents,

and once when he was swinging a spirit lamp
in a shop at St. Ives,

conscience migrating, circumstance mutating,
old jeopardies obscurely stirring,

fragments of irony,
tremors of memory.




A biography of Anne Morrow Lindbergh,
purchased at a used book bazaar.


Inside the back cover,
a folded piece of newspaper
and a snapshot of a horse.


Pages three and four
of the Kingsmont Times for May 7, 1963,
containing seemingly innocuous local stories,
the horse black, running in a meadow,
mane and tail streaming.




The young man pushing the carriage
and the young woman on his arm,
airing their baby in the park,
seem to pause by the bench next to me,
then decline, perhaps suspecting
that my willfulness of the brain is contagious.

I name him Jamie, archetypal human infant.
Issue of all anthropology.

Firstmen, too, likewise undomesticated,
had millennia in their genes,
I announce to the trees and the skies,
to darkest Africa,

had vital instincts for survival,
had uncanny faculties for maturation,

history having no foresight,
time having no caution.

Given Earth and dailiness,
see, I say to the primordial ducks on the lake,
see how the future evolves,
how the protagonists, become earlymen, Jimmy,
given sapience and such versatile hands,
seize upon language, tools, wiles,

idling among the elders and the quirky,
receive intimations of civilization,
hearsay of the splendor of cities,
rumors of rumors of war and the supernatural.

Wait. Wait, I call to the joggers.
Consider the auras drifting
about the vicinities of latermen, Jim,
the towns, the countrysides of Greece,
Italy, Judea, Illinois,

legendries of Homer, Thales, Herodotus,
Socrates, Aeschylus, Pythagoras,

germinal conjugations of thought,

emanations of Marcus Aurelius,
Lucretius, Tacitus, Ovid,

mythology, cosmology, governance,

radiations of Abraham, Moses,
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John.

But, but, I appeal to the patrol car,
rolling through the domain of the sparrows,
commiserate with latemen,
the ballplayers there on the meadow,
with Jamie, now James T, a senior.
Humanity may have overwhelmed itself,

everyman his own priest, saying Luther,
his own emancipator, saying Garibaldi,
own moralist, saying Chaucer,
own innovator, saying Giotto,
own philosopher, saying Descartes,

own ethicist, logician, aesthetician,
epistemologist, metaphysician
saying Locke, saying Rousseau,
saying Nietzsche, saying Sartre.

Civilization having exceeded, confounded,
erratically acculturated itself,
fragmented, misapprehended, censored,
utterly disregarded itself ---

we are here in this metropolitan preserve,
random strolling commoners, bearing each
a privately, willfully, miscellaneously
abridged version of heritage,

Jamie, not disapproving of the trees and the sky,
of darkest Africa nor the primordial ducks,
somewhere, whatever, having fallen asleep.


Bio notes or links for Oliver Rice

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