ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998.


Two Poems by Oliver Rice


I hear a music for ambivalent instruments.
The mores tiffing.
Anecdotes of the detectives.

Innuendos that solicit the natural man.

I sense a tumultous feasibility,
restless probabilities that wait
around the social margins,
grope along the confines of the culture.

See how they seize the freedom of the streets,
shrewd vulgarians doing their bravest,
the humanistic, the fatuous, the wastemakers,
expendable, bearing unconsenting faces,
coping mechanisms, healing books.

The best cases occurring. The worst.

Everywhere the fantasies of the dead,
their sanctuaries, their memorials,
their whims, their mishaps,
fragments of their ethos.

Are they not poignant,
the aching aspirations, nonachievements,
the solitary zones of conscience?

The credulities deep in the communal lore?

The doorways off the times?

I toast, therefore, the risen ape.
His rampant psyche.
An endangered species.




He was known among relatives and friends
as a good man, good husband, parent, employee.

This was a man who from his experience
with human nature, particularly his own,

understood the words peculate and embezzle
because he already knew what stealing is,

who understood the words perjury and deceit
because he already knew what lying is,

understood the words assault and homicide
because he already knew what killing is,

whose widow, shortly after his decease,
endowed a school of theology.


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.

Return to Offcourse Index.