Offcourse Literary Journal

Three Poems, by Arlene Ang.

Storm in a Paper Cup.

Hot chocolate from the vending machine,
then cappuccino. A sudden thirst leans
against the throat like crumbly summer soil.

Paintings, hung as murderers against
a whitewash backdrop, feel carcinogenic,
the murmurs of patients almost funereal.

Nurses float spectrally through corridors,
their faces snapshots of cloud-trapped sun.
This is the calm before a close-up.

I don the bareback gown, for a moment
bed-struck. Perhaps metastasis will evade
the gamma camera, insist on solitude.

Intestines rumble lactose intolerance,
presage approaching storm. Strange
how the body spurns milk, breeds tumors.

The Grecian Experience

Summer. Palm trees convulse against the wind,
their leaves like a hundred scissors snapping.

Every few minutes, coconuts fall. I think of heads
rolling, the guillotine. Thuds mimic footsteps.

They say death comes quietly: a periwinkle sky,
the sun a heady warmth through her hair, then

the stroke. The umbrella in her cocktail glass tumbles
to ground. The dream ebbs, a curtain billowing away.

Outside a bearded man sweeps the verandah, waves
good morning. In time, I will pack her luggage,

the unused clothes, her beauty case with the cracked
handle. For now I contemplate her empty deckchair.


Silent Witness

In the house next door,
the tenants have gone.
Only polyester curtains remain,
and perhaps, the piano.

Photographers still come,
their flashes like electrolysis.
Sometimes I can smell singed hair
where the cast-iron pan struck.

Who could testify I climbed
the trellis, peered
through the kitchen window
after the banging stopped?

Scrambled eggs littered the floor
soft as the satisfaction
on her father's lips;
he disappeared with the sirens.

The small body was spirited
away like ink-drenched scroll;
I heated supper in the microwave,
watched grease film over the peas.

Her chinese doll visits me
at night, eyes closed in reverence
of death. Its face, tilted
to the light, is hammered with gray.

I paint and repaint the blood
on the tiles, brush madder
upon madder. On canvas,
my stained hands never stop shaking.


Arlene Ang lives in Venice, Italy where she edits the Italian edition of Niederngasse ( Her poetry has recently been published in Literary Potpourri, Smiths Knoll (UK),, Tattoo Highway and Mudlark. An e-chapbook of her poetry, "Dirt Therapy" is being hosted by Slow Trains (



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