Maurice Oliver

"Skip #86" Sonnet

I have my reasons. For instance, the
ability to carry a brimming teacup
across a crowded station for one.
To carve a world from an aerodrome
of downed power lines for another.
Cloned orchestra conductors and
a new symphony composed for an
odometer instead of a father clock
makes sense to me too. Tarred
toast. Rat-tailed soup. Lead feathers.
A forest after forest after forest with
no shortage of pine cones. Or maybe
a lamp on a table that fits. Books
that can read to themselves. What
we don't need is more defiant
caterpillars. Edible snails. Beauty
when it's not accidental. And of
course, those few who walk around
asking "why".

& She Spills Mostly Panoramic Views

She lights a limp cigarette in the rain.

As for me--

I've always liked Sinatra
imaging it as a poor man's blanket.

            I'm often forced into a muted dream that
drives through Harlem with the top down
or uses the Mount Rushmore version
as a nose job

            or ever a slot machine spitting
Vegas so squeaky in my rubber band.

And I'd probably go as far as Omaha to cash in
my Savings Bonds if it meant dodging all the strollers.

My garlands are made of solitude and can stretch
the whole length of a sidereal sidewalk of trees.

Now I have to go before the getaway car approaches,
but remember you'll know you are one of the chosen few
when your eyelashes begin to blink the secret code.

How to Be A Better Adulterer


Find the best spot to park your car so that if the moon rolls
out from behind a cloud you can use its light as part of
your quick getaway plan.


Search for a park bench in thick bushes where there is
evidence that others before you have listened to the sound
of rusty metal hitting a basin in relative seclusion.


Always carry a step ladder and a sturdy coil of rope in your truck
just in case you have to vote by absentee-ballot.


Avoid revealing your place of residence after a rendezvous
by hoping into the library's night deposit box and
remaining there until morning pick-up.


Always keep in mind that crouching in low grass as a means
non-detection will only get you a buzz-cut to the shoulder-blades.

Choosing A Venial Misdemeanor

As if she were the parrot in her Latin mass

                  ready to cross her legs and fake a confession.

The priest could sit on the other side of a thin layer of gauze

flipping through his sin

                             catalog until he finds the appropriate

venial misdemeanor.       He might change his robe but never

change her mind. And their silence would grow like trees

through manholes, rubbing against the bureaucratic upholstery.

Dreary into another unless skill that pools in a murky estuary

near mind's narrow bank. And only fate follows,

                                          brandishing its straight-razor.

The Word "Intergalactic" Bordered By Flashing Lights

As we pretend to be our own caretakers never expecting
a single sign of redemption...

"What if tomorrow turns out to be the last available seat on
the bus", she worries, as the blue veins whisper words of
affection beneath her opaque skin.

"That would never happen but if it did the road ahead would
likely be laced with potholes and could easily be disguised
as a snake laced around our occipital wrists", I reply, after
finding our return-tickets to nowhere.

And pigeons crowded with feathers in the rafters watch us
dine on our heroics wrapped in tin foil or

aliens wait for the perfect time to mutate into no-smoking signs

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