David Rivard
Otherwise Elsewhere

Somewhere over there the lawyer with a yellowish leaf in his hair;

somewhere out  of sight a swallow soaring away from our dog-nose weather;

elsewhere the stable-hand for an equestrian team; elsewhere

the bodhisattva stretching by the river or the sleepwalking knife-thrower,

the dubious bridegroom or the cosmetic dentist or the smiling steamfitter;

otherwise the town TB doctor, a whoreson of the adamantine

as he comes by law, a doctor come to a cold apartment

for an old man’s cough; otherwise the contented singer of karaoke,

or the anti-semite & his pyramid scheme; otherwise, in a soaking tub, a tenured

gnostic or a tan Micawber; otherwise Joey Gallo in Umberto’s clam bar;

or in Berlin, at the Atelier Jacobi, Lotte Jacobi; elsewhere

the Secretary of Defense, & the wolfhound sent down to retire

him, a conductor of souls; elsewhere the young girl who’ll swim the length

of a warm pond (because her guardian naps), or a policeman eating

beer-battered shrimp; somewhere else what used to be called an industrialist;

and a nun about to go over the wall; & a judge sowing an apple seed;

elsewise, at an auction dock, a bayman unloading the white & gray

bushel-baskets of littlenecks & cherrystones, or the Irish wholesaler

with his herring & whitebait, glistening grey & pink eels on chipped ice,

the sawdust under his feet wet with blood; elsewhere a clerk

at a lighting outlet; otherwise someone steered by brighter devices;

someone trimming his sideburns; a settler; a currency trader; a choral director;

elsewise the rooster who stunned Ophelia, a rooster with patten-leather

boots, shoes like clement black candles; otherwise Ophelia; or the Moroccan boy

and his breakfast of hardboiled eggs, aboard the bus from Tetuan to Fez

a Berber who wiped his mouth on his sleeve; or a dumbfounded skeptic

or a vixen or a lotus-eater or a grandmother or an unbaptized doorman—

all those other lives & destinations that might have been mine, but weren’t—

because there are two kinds of distance between us—towards, & away.

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David Rivard
About the Author

In addition to Standoff, David Rivard is the author of five other books: Otherwise Elsewhere, Sugartown, Bewitched Playground, Wise Poison, winner of the James Laughlin Prize from the Academy of American Poets and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award, and Torque, winner of the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize. Among his awards are fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, Civitella Ranieri, and the NEA, as well as two Shestack Prizes from American Poetry Review and the Hardison Poetry Prize from the Folger Shakespeare Library, in recognition of both his writing and teaching.  He teaches in the MFA in Writing program at the University of New Hampshire.