Spring 2008

Table of Contents - Vol. VI, No. 1


Poetry    Interview    Translations    Fiction    Book Reviews

Oliver Rice


Lisa Ardently Listening in Brighton

It might have been this very place,
a fishing village in his time,
she hears, the recent graduate,
hears her neurons confide,
just here on the nudists’ beach

or the Marine Parade,
the place Isaac Newton had in mind
when he likened himself and his achievements
to a boy on the seashore
playing with shells and pebbles
while the great ocean of truth
lay all undiscovered before him.

One feels his earnestness
, she hears,
far in her backmind,
feels his piety for the conformity of things,
she hears, down from London for the promenade,
the sun, the carnival piers.

Hears a whispering from the antique shops.
But that was then. This is now.
They disavow him, his poignant myopia


Light, after all, does not travel in a straight line.

, she hears, beneath the murmuring,
the muttering of the crowds,
hears, given her university tendencies,
micromatter does not necessarily persist
in a state of rest or motion until opposed,

may be indwellingly chaotic,

hears antimatter may be an ubiquity all its own

hears an agitation of old idolatries
along Queens Road, in the archades,
fragments of nostalgia, dark fables.


Nature, she hears, herself unconsenting
at the Sea Life Centre,
the Old Ship Hotel,
nature is only an hypothesis,

herself receiving recollections of mortality,
of oblivion,
of the sun burning out,
of humanity’s tenure obliterated,

hears motive forces acting on a body’s inertia
may alter its identity,

as may the event of its receiving attention,

as may its aging, its maturing, its evolving

her sensibilities provoked by inimical,
by mechanistic syllogisms,
by a relativity without recourse,


herself, nonetheless, exhilerated
by a human audacity,
a courage to see, to know, to say,

hearing if to every action
there is always opposed an equal reaction,
then a great truth may be one
whose opposite is also a great truth,

then an Ultimate Unified Field Theory
must have its Diametric Contradiction

herself, a psychosystem anonymous and free,
receiving surges of human entreaty,
intimations of vast symbolistic excursions,

taking tea among the selves
clad in useful fictions,

hearing if time, if space
are infinite in all directions, so may be truth,

or are eternally evolving, so may be truth

herself adrift in the carnal muddle
through The Lanes, the museum, the pubs,

or if a Theory of Everything postulates antimatter,
so may it contemplate antitime and antispace
and so antitruth

herself a random entity among the many,
fathers and sons, mothers and daughters,
hearing their secrets through the Royal Pavilion,
through the Garden, the Banqueting Room,
who cannot save themselves.


The City as Idea

Sure enough, in Calcutta, in San Jose,
they suffer from bunions and ill humor,
go out under transient skies,
cease to be children and grow old.

Intelligence there makes a kind of home,

although in San Jose they have lifeways
attuned to the very next moment,

and in Calcutta they have habits of eye
as old as curry or the dhoti.

Nonetheless, see how the classes coexist,
care for their dogs, cows, cats, and peacocks.

Sure enough, in San Jose, in Calcutta,
they are not entirely consoled for monogamy,
are sustained by refutable occupations,
ask in the night how it is feasible to be men.

It is an arena the size of the soul,

although in Calcutta they are uncertain
where their troubles come from,

and in San Jose they have no word
for one’s innermost essence.

Nonetheless, hear the ovation in the streets,
the silence here or there that says anything.


The Interesting Stuff, He Says, is in the Back of the Drawer

This is Robert.
He is eight, chubby, and precocious.
Likes the city, the country, cherry tarts.
And Robinson Crusoe.

Birds, he thinks, must have maps in their heads.
You should ask their permission to fly a kite.

They are giving him piano.
He wants drums --- timpani, really.
He likes it when, in Tchaikovsky,
the conductor throws out his hand at percussion
and the timpanist shows off.
He could do that.

God, he declares, chose the color of blood.

He believes he could do the wind on his timpani.
Leaves blowing.

Could do scratching the dog’s belly.

Aunt Martha’s walk.

Dead people, he says, could have left notes.

He could do boxers.

A subway station.

Strange noises in the night.


© Oliver Rice



Poetry    Interview    Translations    Fiction    Book Reviews

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