ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

A journal for poetry, criticism, reviews, stories and essays published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Two Poems by Oliver Rice



I sit in the courtyard of the public library,
just removed from the traffic of borrowers
bearing fictions, statistics, selves, worlds,
inward, outward squints, ennui,

        et tu,
        never again --- seeming to emanate
through the wall behind me ---
        damn the torpedoes,
        how do I love thee,

citizens bearing hypotheses of the culture,
communal rotes,
zeal to bring foreboding into intelligence,

        ergo sum,
        man is a golden impossibility,

seeking news of their psyches,
of bacteria,
the cosmos,

        ideas are the only homeland,
        the awesome insufficiency of mind,
        please pray for me, or something,

psychosystems with pasts, futures arriving,
neural, glandular,
underlives at risk,

        in the end, the self is left unfinished,

risen quadrupeds, receivers of the fables,
groping about the edges of being.




At this,
the next,
and this very moment

this very person, adult male,
bikes about his habitat,

if Shiraz is where the nightingales are,

ill-informed about his physiology
perplexed by his psychology,
his undermind, his intuition,
his inner offender, interrogator,

if the silk worms were stolen from China,

bearing witness to the stimuli, the ironies,
fragments of sociology,
the rights of the streets,
the work of belonging,
a sense coming of brief clarities,
of his presence therein,

if van Gogh cut off only part of an ear,

postulations drifting in on the wind,
afterthoughts of statues in Vienna and Beijing,
nostalgias of astronauts,
restless probabilities out of the Age of Reason,
incitements of dark agencies abroad,

if the Ob continues to flow toward the sea,
if the stars continue to shine by day.


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