There is Robert, Eleven now

Still precocious. Still chubby.
Impatient with sports. And maybe girls.
Therefore is at present his favorite word.
He thinks it has to do with being a skeptic.
Which he might like.
Has been reading in a book called the body.
And another about normal behavior for his age.
Which he might not like.
Intends to learn how to sail.
To visit statues in distant cities
and listen for what they may be thinking.
To find out what someone means
saying the mystery of plain things
or biblically quaint
or multiple personality
or a political machine
or evolving standards of decency.
Is pleased when people speak to him
as if he will understand.
But more just to be alone.
And feel he has secrets.
Like the old woman across the street,
has tried talking to himself.
And whispering.
What happens, he wants to know,
in the tubes of a trombone?
And how, before you even think
your hands know exactly what to do.
Pigeon tracks in the snow, he believes,
look like writing.
Why, he wonders, is q always followed by u?
What goes on in his head while he sleeps?
Who is this Freud?

The Imperatives, The Hazards

Is it so, Gertrude,
given the imperatives of id,
of ego and superego,
that an idea may be disingenuous,
given that infatuation will be served,
greed or disinformation,
that a persuasion may be ill willed,
that a posture may be vain?
Is it so, Gertrude,
given the hazards of impetuosity,
of timidity or woundedness,
that we must live in a jostling of mindsets?

Oliver Rice has received the Theodore Roethke
Prize and twice been nominated for a Pushcart
Prize. His poems have appeared widely in
journals and anthologies in the United States,
as well as in Canada, England, Austria, Turkey,
and India. His book, On Consenting to Be a Man,
has been introduced by Cyberwit, a diversified
publishing house in the cultural capital Allahabad,
India, and is available on Amazon.

2008 Underground Voices