Offcourse Literary Journal
ISSN 1556-4975

Three Poems, by Bruce Slater.

The Emperor of Antarctica.

(for John Nash)

Dressed as a black cat
someone calls to me.
It's time to play charades —
this one a pirate,
that one an Indian squaw.
My mother with her bobbing antennae.
My father, a Moses holding tablets
of the law.
On Saturday I wear a quirky smile,
on Monday I sprawl drunkenly
beneath the photos of my youth.
Tuesday I find myself an insect,
having undergone a strange & horrible metamorphosis.
License plates link my name
to the stars.
Salad dressing on my shirtsleeves
accounts for the secret agents
who attend my garden by stealth.
All the talk at Cambridge
hints at the universal symmetry
of world government
in which my part is to reveal
the hidden motives of time.
Today I will reveal
the abstract encryptions of these
crowded messages from space
by drawing on the blackboard
the outline of a potato,
a sport coat, & a river in hell.


An Auspicious Dream

I think of a thousand and one
uses for a wicker basket
until suddenly it fills
with unhusked corn
which moves
before my eyes
like a puppet
animated by its marionette.
I draw from it
a green serpent
variegated with gray,
black, & white bands.
he coils
about my shoulders, neck & arms
then whispers his secrets
into my ear.
I feel myself
ready to tell the world
I have found my calling.


The Dream Of The Dead

Strangers arise within
a fear of my own language.
I have hands for eyes,
lips for skin.
In the domain of the shadow
I elegize the bottomless pit,
search for the equation
which foretells
the day I will go mad,
sing through the darkness
as the darkness sings through me,
wonder at the color of the sky
in nirvanha.
When I come to rest
I find myself
covered in mud
drawn from the banks
of the river Styx.
I gorge upon the bitter coins
placed in my mouth.
My tears are ash,
the spit in my mouth
the melting wax of a candle
which burns through the sleep
of the dead.
Beneath the midnight rain
under the mystifying moon
I make a motion of mourning
which disappoints my God.

Bruce Stater is a teacher, poet, and artist who currently lives in Astoria, New York. Over the years he has produced a number of unpublished manuscripts in a large variety of poetic styles and forms. Recently, selections and drafts from his long poem VISIONS & DREAMS OF CHIRON IN PISCES have been published in the on-line journal Poetry SZ and are forthcoming in Golden Handcuffs Review



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