Maurice Oliver


Successive Hallways.Flowered Carpets.


To paint a self-portrait and not include trip-wires.

Or a cave. A mantle lined with monkey skulls.
A smile that falls down on one side. Landscape
unlikely Germany. Wall tapestries in otherwise
empty rooms. Hair framing her face. Green as in
paper money. Park benches. Harsh streetlights.
Lips & tongues that struggle to form the word
"yes". Mirrors in the hall. Planted palms. "To
be perfectly alone except for the island in me",
she explains, not knowing which way is north.
Somewhere to wade across. "And I stole these
words from my father's ears", he replies, only
repeating what the juggler said. Flute music in
the dark. The unmistakable smell of orange peels.
Rain hanging over endless plains...

or experiences purely based on folklore...
with heroes tending the garden.

She applies the color with a coarse brush.
He tells the child more horse stories...

sharing breakfast with a cat.

Letters that arrive at monthly intervals.
Or maybe just visitors resembling themselves.



"With Glowing Props" Sonnet


As a chair grows from the floor. Flowers
that bend in wind like jockeys. A train
that starts but sits there. Toothbrush in
a yogurt cup. Red mullets grilled over hot
coals. Two gray ships with twin masts. Or
Chopin on piano in the background. A walled
city or another off-ramp. Rooms overlooking
the river. Several dreamscapes as seen from
ground-level. With eyelids glued together.
Wide streets with high buildings. Or gulls
at the first sight of land. A forest that
answers to boy names only. Red hair with a
necklace of pearls. She steps down from the
golden carriage. He presses the accelerator
to run the light. Or a layer of dust on the
furniture. A pain in the neck. Switch off.
Switch-hitter. No map of the tunnel. Then a
line through the wrong name. Curled like a
dry leaf. Desire with a quotation mark. Says
the speaker. Or swallows his own tongue.