Offcourse Literary Journal

New Poems by Rebecca Lu Kiernan.



When it was over, she removed red lace,
Brushed down her cowlick , dressed,
Headed for the door,
Chin up, long strides,
Floating like a runway goddess.
He sprang from the bed, grabbed her wrists
And moaned, "You fluster me sometimes."
She laughed in his direction, gazed submissively
At the tangerine moon through the curtains
Which had remained open.
He offered nothing more.
He stopped that avalanche
By kissing her forehead
Like Jesus will.
She wondered if it would matter
If he knew
She hoped the shadows they made
On those generic, cream walls
Would hang like smoke stain,
Like crude cave etchings
In case the world ended right there
Some future archaeologist
Might conclude:
Room 303 of the Holidome
They did not even make
The pretense of dinner.
Red lace.
Tables turning.
She turned as if snapped free
Of some hypnotic spell.
He stood naked at the door
"You will be mine."
He tried to make her turn around
With his mind,
One more kiss, or
When would they meet again?
He watched through the peephole.
She glanced at her watch,
Disappeared in the elevator
Possibly for forever.
But he didn't cry, "Wait!'
And he didn't send flowers.
He didn't make the next day call.
And the world ended right there.
Better to lose her
Than love her
As mercilessly
As she had once loved him.


When I whimper your name
Breathlessly against your skin
Without caution, pride, restraint,
Three little letters
Turn into
Some kind of prayer.
"You're shining.", you coo
And I am glad I believed in you
Long before I traversed the earth
To your sugar white beach
And neon emerald waves
And unblinking eyes.
Everyone drones how
They love.
I'll spare you that.
But if you knew
The specific style
Of my worship,
You would pack a small bag
Not even of sensible stuff,
Your swimming trunks,
Shiny blue shoes,
A lime green tie,
And run to me.
You would be a merciful god,
Not a god of locusts and floods
And I would gladly
Fall trembling
To the feet of you
And it would not be
Inappropriate or excessive
To tell you
You were my life.


You will receive my poison candles by overnight post,
Some irresistible smell, honey, pears, the back of my knees,
Bound in pink, silk ribbons, begging to be undone like a gown,
"Congratulations, Sweet", scrawled on a tarot card, the hanged man.

Don't remember me naked, trembling, wide-eyed, wet beneath you.
Don't let the stormy, long dead me take your icy hand in dreams.
Don't you walk alone beneath the lighting-struck cobalt willow.
Don't shuffle onto a train going nowhere, it runs to me.


After sleep, your blinking eyes open a swaying cobalt sea,
Powdery black beaches glinting in the sodium moonbeam,
Bubbling mauve lava unforgotten after three hundred years,
Faces I kissed, the tools of my time, paralyzed in action.

In this silence, not just a sea, a sea on some otherworld
And me, terraforming, making your alien house my home,
Building a circular, platinum room with rhombus windows,
Look away, Sweet, I can drown in this unanswerable fire.


If my shadow whispered, it would be your broken voice.
You could make a mystery out of anyone.
Disappear without a trace.
Have one's self declared legally dead in Haiti,
Everything is virgin-fresh, no apologies are owed.
If I could sleep, I would wake in a ghost town church,
Slivers of stained glass fracturing my knees,
Cobalt bats spiraling a stagnant baptismal pool,
Wombats pawing overturned ivory pews,
The tiger lilies you sent me, pressed in every bible,
Torn photographs of us burning in the collection plate.
You would assemble, first just a glint of light
Through claw marks in the burgundy curtain,
Then some half forgotten human form I saw at a train station
Searching for his misplaced child, always, always
Took his eyes off her for a fractionary second.
You would be unforgivably casual in a paisley robe, bare feet
Eating brown sugared pears in plum sauce from a gravy boat,
Angry as god, but lacking mercy,
Itching to say something irretrievable.
Angels study their charges in harshest light, and no light at all,
Best in shadows where everything erases so perfectly
Better than events that never transpired.
Never saw my face or smelled my skin
Beneath me, inside me, the terrible time you actually became me,
So busy clawing for the child whose hand slipped away in a crowd.
For a moment, lost, endangered, peppering your future
With circus life or beneath the porch captivity.
And even on this, my wedding day
I am never safe from tales of you
Driving drunk on the wrong side of the road in Australia,
Plundering restaurants, hospitals, bars
Begging for some rumor of me.



I am not certain it was me
Curling my lacey navy gown
Into the shark's belly blue case,
Slipping its translucence
Over my freshly washed hair,
Across the frozen nipples
That anticipated you,
Down the belly that shimmered
With eucalyptus oil.
How you muted me
With your angry kiss
In that generic, eggshell room
With the tangerine bedspread,
Chessboard carpet, frayed silk
I am not certain
There was any penetration,
Just lightning flashing through
Claw marks in the curtains,
Taffeta, the lavender of
A healing bruise.
If this goes on trial,
Perhaps you drugged me
Or hypnotized me
Or upset my blood sugar levels
With champagne and creme brulee.
I'll misspell your name for the jury,
Say you had red hair
And walked with a limp.
Your identity is sealed inside me
Like a wound.
If some new enemy tries
To injure me there
I'll make him wear your Gilligan hat
And take obscene Polaroids
And when the evidence leaps out
Of my overnight bag,
Your monogrammed clip-on cufflinks,
Crystal jaguar paperweight,
Your semen on navy lace,
Threads of your emerald sweater
That stuck to my couch,
A lock of your hair
Stolen in sleep,
I will flatly deny
You were
My life.


You cannot imagine tomorrow.
It is the morning train.
It is the Mars red shirt you wore today
Over my glittery shark's eye platinum jeans.
It is the curl of my shoulder to smell you.
(What is your flesh?)
Hazelnut and gingerbread,
Blue eucalyptus leaves,
Limes and brown sugared pears,
Pineapple bread crusts?
You cannot imagine tomorrow.
It is a lipstick kissed letter
On the kitchen table.
It is a tin of blueberry muffins
From Lou's bakery.
It is a telephone checked for dial tone.
It is silver starlings shivering in the lilacs
After rain.


Rebeccca Lu Kiernan's fiction has appeared in MS. Magazine, Asimov's Science Fiction, North American Review and other magazines and books in the U.S. and Australia. She was recently nominated for a Rhysling Award for her comical science-fiction work, "When a Snake Bites you in the Ass". Her poems have appeared in Offcourse Issue #11, #13 and #15.

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