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Editor's Note


SNR's Writers


Santayana in a Traffic Jam
We are stranded exactly here in sociology,
the disaffected workers and I,
the atheists and the money men
and the woman with a diamond in her nose.
          He began to write at Harvard.
The mortal air glimmers along the skyline.
From the doorways of the shopping strip
we confront ourselves.
          His Life of Reason in five volumes
          was believed to be a masterwork.
About us drift the prevailing credulities
and a most palpable dust.
          His Realms of Being was acclaimed
          across Europe and America
          for its penetration and luminosity.
Beneath us the guts of the city rumble.
          Near the end, grave and innocent in his cell
          at the convent of the Blue Sisters,
          he listened to the Roman distance.
          "It is all poetry or nothing,"he whispered.

Tradition and the Individual Talent 
          I sit in the British Museum.
I have stood with the throng at Moorgate Station,
where Eliot passed each morning with his umbrella.
Have trekked across to Dorcetshire,
where Coleridge leaped the Wordsworth's gate.
And up with my notebooks to Coole,
where Lady Gregory served Yeats his soup.
Walked the grounds at Gresham's School,
where Auden played Caliban.
And gone in the summer to Thun,
where Marguerite refused Arnold her love.
          I sit in the British Museum.

 What about Donald?
Egocentric on a seawall beside the bay,
lapsed parishioner, marathon runner,
Alexander is watching.
Hedonistic on a park bench near city hall,
deep reader, grudge holder, pinto rider,
most impetuous graduate of his year,
Norman is watching the paradoxes.
Acquisitive on a balcony facing the cathedral,
tattooed on both biceps,
fancy dancr, bird feeder, left leaner,
taking his ulcers day by day,
Clyde is watching the paradoxes orbit Earth.

What Every Neurologist Knows

In                        the
thesis and antithesis
have nested
for eons.

What Tintoretto Knew
"The first human types indistinguishable from modern
man . . . appeared about 40,000 years ago."
The Columbia Encyclopedia.
    When he woke to the dawn,
    or the pageant on the Grand Canal
    or the silks of the Doge's wife,
    his eyes tingled
    like the fingers of the jewel merchant.
"Darwin was right . . .” Stephen Jay Gould
    It was not entirely the marbled facades
    nor vines trailing off a balcony
    into restless waters,
    not only the masts of the exotic ships
    nor Colleoni on his heroic bronze horse  
    that taught him solitude and melancholy
    and vehemence and haste,
    not only the whores in their yellow kerchiefs
    nor the matrons in their black shawls
    nor the funeral of Titian at I Frari
    that inflamed his obsession
    with the humanly real.
". . . about life --- it is absurd to pretend that there is
any plan or meaning in it, but never mind, we will make
a plan and the meaning will be that we are men and
not dogs.” James Gould Cozzens
    The walls of scuola and palazzo
    and museo and basilica
    stood in awe of his passion to depict,   
    how the mist drifted in from the lagoon
    through the gates of the Ghetto
    and the cloisters of Santo Stefano,
    how the senator postured in his scarlet robe
    and the nightingale fluttered in its cage.
    How the priest from the Madonna del Orto,
    brother to the giant shipwright,
    turned his tears to the sky
    in The Crucifixion.
    How the glassblower from the Rialto,
    dice thrower and known thief,
    cowered among the crowd
    in The Last Judgment.
    How the fishwife with the broken nose
    wiped her hands on her skirt.
    How Saint Lawrence was burned on the iron
    and the innocents were murdered.
". . . as we contemplate the galactic disaster that
awaits . . ." Anonymous
    How in the Piazza
    the children flung out their arms.
    How at carnival
    the foreheads of the fathers gleamed.
    How their mouths were twisted
    in joy and alarm.

Copyright 2009, Oliver Rice. © This work is protected under the U.S. copyright laws. It may not be reproduced, reprinted, reused, or altered without the expressed written permission of the author.

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 of poems, 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.