Fiction   Essays   Poetry  The Ten On Baseball Chapbooks In Memory

Maurice Oliver

Postcard To Samantha

Dear Samantha, just a postcard
to say we're here and what a
lovely place it is. Maybe even
better than the travelogue.

Yesterday morning we arrived
on a train screeching like an owl,
creeping its way to the island
on a final set of tracks
connecting it to the mainland.

The sight of the lagoon under a
pearl gray sky with mist rising
from its still waters like steam
rising from a hot bath
was simply breathtaking.

The train station is the only
modern building here. No cars
are allowed either. All the
taxis & buses float. But the
romantic way to get around is
by gondola. These long slender
black boats really know how to
rock & roll and don't come cheap.

Our gondolier was a local lad who
spoke perfect English, even when
he yelled, "watch your step,"
as I fell into the Grand Canal.

Italian Trains

In a northern sky of late winter
between sunset and night with snow
like tea dust falling a train
pretends to be a single lamp riding
the lip of a river that streams
like oil pressed from warm olives.

Quiet keeps vigil through a
dozen dots for villages on the
dark side of a mountain as a
train stiffs pass the sighfetching
smells of a cookie factory in a
valley where patience is a virtue.

An overnight express punches at
gravity on an upgrade then wiggles
through a narrow pass with peaks
like cathedral spires giving way to
bending palms & floral backgrounds
perfect for watercolor canvases.


I remember every detail.

I arrive with time to spare and must
fall asleep because the next thing I
recall is the conductor's departure
whistle blowing.

On a train heading south.

My doctor advises me to "return to my
native climate" thinking the change
will do me good, But to me it simply

The escape route is secured.

In fog heavy enough to rust all motion
as the train snakes its way through
this plastic bag of a city determined
to reach its fringes.

Screeching like an owl.

We sway our way pass grimy industrial
parks that grudgingly give way to
shabby rural dwellings which then
release a countryside held hostage.

You make your appearance.

At exactly this point the cigarette
enters carrying a sealed movie script
and moments later takes the vacant
seat directly across from mine.

The chemical process begins.

Wearing a simple black dress and
low-heeled pumps you stare at the hair
on my hands until it seems you reach
some kind of conclusion.

The snare is complete.

Totally smitten, I watch you cross
your legs, revealing a delicate tattoo
in henna ink just above the ankle, the
words "Time After Time" on pale skin.

©2003 by Maurice Oliver

Maurice Oliver spent almost a decade working as a freelance photographer in Europe, then returned to America in 1990 to work for the Los Angeles Times. Then, in 1995, he made a lifelong dream reality when he traveled for eight months around the world. But instead of taking pictures, he used the same acute sense of creative energy to record the experience in a journal, which eventually became hundreds of poems. And so began his ambition to be a poet. With five completed but yet-to-be-published books of poetry, he currently resides in Portland, Oregon, where he is a private tutor. His poems have appeared recently online at and, and will appear in Eye-Shot Holy-Ignorance, Tryst3, and SpaceBreather in winter 2003-4.

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