Maurice Oliver


Even Angels Sleep In Tents

Afterwards, I am pronounced dead. Twin sisters man the
mausoleum. Or I could still be standing in line at the
ticket booth to a movie with a sad ending. Either way,
I'll have to put out my smoke. My ice will never melt.
My trousers will always have this rip. And these black
shoes will remain planted firmly in the notion that a
hallway full of mirrors only sees the invisible-

that when there's not the faint vinegar smell of me,
there's the woman in red with rainy armpits. She never
raises the rent. Without her the satellite dishes &
Peter Built trucks might as well be scrap metal. Her
very presence reminds me of where I'm from. Her job is
to apply makeup over passion's mark. Sometimes, she
drops bread crumbs just in case I want to go back. But
I don't'. Here's where imperfection gives way to the
instrumental version on side B. I'm not being modest
when I say that the simplest refinery can ignite a
face, that there are no houses, no Ferris wheels and
no body of water that is famous enough to lunch at
the Governor's mansion. And you can rest assured that
any life can turn out to be a black cat.

An Overdone Tan Or Orange Flag

-Arrested while carrying a suitcase of kudzu.

-Not a fresh mackerel anywhere.

-Said the man to his dream.

-With the landscape rolling along on wheels.

-Or wading through the sweet ambrosia of vagrancy.

-Where hunters come under the spell of forest bells.

-Longing to touch more sluggish earth.

-Or drawn on a cave wall by some solitary hand.

-Or just before typing in your entire life.

-To be saved by the bell.

-Or barred from both the you of me.

-Same old mailbox but on a different hill.

-Or cropped out of the picture completely.

String Along Lighting #3

Has a manhood. Maybe calls it pistol. Has
a girlfriend or herself has none. With wet
bangs in her eyes. In paperdoll overalls.
Though on no leash. She can really wax the
dog. And see spot run. Assuming late spring
donkey. As in sweat. It's his day off. With
a distaste for shoehorns and just naturally
suspicious. But not just any big ears. With
holes in the screen door. Like in recluse
behind the spider webs. Peeling off plaster.
A plasma TV. Lily coming down the staircase.
Glad to be a sunflower or ladder. Or even the
Maybelline factory on casino road. Is this
enough she says to the broom sweeping. O yes
your cat can lick he thinks but is too shy to
say. Thanks to the blue rug and a fondness
for jack cheese. Will eventually go bald. So
a wig for the magistrate. Entering the house
through the back door. The table gets down on
its knees. Under an afternoon sky pinking up.

And Nothing.Or Not.

As surely as one foot falls
in front of the other
we all share the experience of
joy   and    sorrow over years:

lying on his back
an angle facing the table
with lids shut down
dressed in a work shirt
and blue dungarees
a few empty bottles of beer
chicken wings on the table
the skins of some strange fruit
hair matted & damp
those early hints of gray
less two cigarettes from a pack
the dog's dish bone dry
as a face lined in wilderness
there was no blood
on permanently sealed lips
in a calm before the wake
as if an ordinary immobile body
could upright the over-turned chair.
Maurice Oliver spent almost a decade working as a
freelance photographer in Europe. Then, in 1995, he
made a lifelong dream reality by traveling around the
world for eight months, recording his experiences in a
journal instead of photographs. And so began his
desire to be a poet. His poetry has appeared in The
Potomac Journal, Circle Magazine, Bullfight Review,
Tryst3 Journal, The MAG, Eye-Shot, The Surface, One
Forty Two Magazine, Word Riot, Retort
Magazine(Australia), Taj Mahal Review(India), Stride
Magazine(UK),& online at,, &
He lives in Portland, Oregon where he is a tutor.