Monday May 27

RiceAdrian Adrian Rice was born in Belfast in 1958. In 1999, he was awarded the prestigious US/Ireland Exchange Residency Bursary, which led eventually to a Writer-in-Residency stint at Lenoir-Rhyne University, Hickory, North Carolina, in 2005. Adrian and his wife, Molly, and young son, Micah, now live in Hickory, where he teaches English at Catawba Valley Community College and from where he commutes to Boone for Doctoral studies at Appalachian State University. Rice also plays mandolin for The Belfast Boys, alongside Belfast-born singer-songwriter Alyn Mearns. Rice’s poems first appeared in Muck Island (1990), a collaboration with Ulster artist, Ross Wilson, copies of which are housed in the Tate Gallery, and The Boston Museum of Fine Arts. The Mason’s Tongue (Abbey Press, 1999), was shortlisted for the Christopher Ewart-Biggs Memorial Literary Prize, and translated into Hungarian by Thomas Kabdebo. Hickory Haiku was published in 2010 by Finishing Line Press, Kentucky. Adrian’s latest book, The Clock Flower, was launched in Belfast in November, 2012. A reissue of The Clock Flower, with additional poems, was published in 2013 by Press 53 (Winston-Salem). A new full collection, Hickory Station, is scheduled for spring 2016, also from Press 53. His website can be found here.


for Kevin Todd

So buried in a book
I almost missed them

But I looked up
Just in time to see

Two classic lines of sunlight
Tracking our neighbour’s yard

And how the hobo in me
Ran to jump the train

That rode such rails
Just as they disappeared


"Nature never wears a mean appearance."
Ralph Waldo Emerson (‘On Nature’)

Just when you think
you have clinched the deal
on that certain equilibrium
which some of us mere mortals
seem doomed to seek—

sitting in the porch-shade
on a steamy afternoon,
with the wee man sat happily
in his garden sandbox—

a big bumblebee steers
straight for you at an unnatural
speed, and then won’t go away.
So, you find yourself belting
it irritably out of your porch-space
with the full-handed back
of a Bill Stafford poetry book—

an exemplary pacifist—
to the old Belfast tune of
Get the hell out of here!
Blushing, flustered, you then
return to the book,
feeling silly, a little guilty,
certainly less than mature,
back to that elusive goal
of being fully one with other
humans, and with nature.

The Electric Life

"The transaction that we call the experience of poetry 
always takes place between one being and another. 
The energy circulates from privacy to privacy."

                           Sven Birkerts, The Electric Life

Night after night, 
I feared they’d left me,
decided to drop me
like an old flame.
Each evening, near dusk,
their courting time,
I studied the tall trees
outlined like coastlines
against the blue,
their blue gaps
like lakes or loughs,
and waited. But nothing.

Then, the other evening,
I saw something 
in the treetops,
not golden-green
but white light,
blinking on and off,
that I mistook for planes,
but which was them.
Were they starting 
in the heavens,
where they normally finish,
and working down?
Or were they simply
being newborn?
They were still 
so much better
than the predicted
meteor shower,
being living light,
not inanimate matter
borrowing fire from 
our atmosphere.

And then, tonight, 
while I’m glowing 
with Birkert’s book,
they’ve returned, 
in all their glory, playing
peek-a-boo with my eyes,
so many of them sailing
slowly around the porch
like gentle Zeppelins,
close enough to touch.
This is the life.
The real electric life.

The Drowning

Seeking luck through the evening,
He spat into the torn mouth
Of the first fish pulled on board:
Fishes’ eyes have seen strange things,
He murmured—the uneasy burden
Of a prophetic word.

With darkness came a listening wind;
The sea made mouths at us all night.
Not until the break of light
Did he come in,
Off Heddles Port—
Pockets inside out,
Mouth full of the ocean’s spit.

Suppose what they say is true—
We sink beneath the sea
Lost in the flood of memory:
Then say his last journey
Was no macabre pirouette
Through the watery dark;
But that he went down serenely,
Rapt, as in a childhood zone,
In the whorling silence of a snowstorm 
Under an oval dome.