Offcourse Literary Journal
ISSN 1556-4975

Poems , by R.L.Swihart.


Triptych: Merzbild


In the neglected pocket of his down jacket
a funicular ticket stub from Bergen

The spade dame he finds scrounging
in a kitchen drawer

Salvaged from the sofa's cracks
three pieces of sea glass, two cat's-eyes,
tinsel from a witch's broom



A railroad crossing sign

Two snails' intersecting paths

St. Andrew's cross

A simplex signature


Rx with consort doctor's scrawl

The chronogram MCMLIX



In sleep
breath catches on a branch
and retraces its steps

Over the sizzling of bacon and eggs
the idle conversation of what for
where to next

The extispacy of bird chirps
usurping the polyphony of distance



Nottiteln #98

Sheep are scarce, cars too fast,
the rain is unreliable

To have encountered so little resistance
is nearly unspeakable

On the other side of the duplex
between back stoop and garden plot

the magnolia shaded the sunflower
dropped its dry crusts of wing

the wind shuffled to the lagoon
in borrowed slippers

the hanging bat unfolded
behind a whining door

and the orange balloon rolled after the slippers
following the arabesque of dream



Bill's Ghost


The Tangerinn draws
to its flame

a beer-sipping expatriate
who reaches behind the bar to retrieve
Sutcliffe's pilgrim

a ring of raucous night owls
cross-dressed to kill

an old satyr
who under the truth serum of gin
confesses to an empty chair



On the rooftop of the El Muniria
bougainvillea bleeds from red to black
sentenced tennies hang like charred quarry
the world whispers into an earlike dish



The man in Rm #9 refuses to leave
though he's been dead for years





He goes to work in the dark.
It hardly matters: to every color
Memory answers gray.
A taxi to the station, get off at Slauson,
from there, though the buses come in clusters,
smooth sailing to campus.



When the death-sirens call
mother lashes herself to the mast of routine.
Hospital, needlepoint, pinochle on the Net.



Leaf-soldiers mount the garden wall-
first only scouts, then a whole battalion.
Eventually: swarming black.
The two agonies are one.




Maybe they agreed on Existenz, but little else.
Rush D—, you're an angel, trip the light
when you leave

Things won't get better before they get worse,
they run their course, why should it be any
different with us.

I need to be alone, to sort things out.
Prayer changes things, but someone needs
to supply the feet.

The oppressive heat. Emerging from darkness
into light, the white worm bored its hole through sky,
swirl of hair, gash of lips.

Pavilions with Splenda, he said
as the automatic door arced and closed
and he swung through aisles 5 and 6

feigning a purchase,
the gun and gavel going off
in his head


A Michigander by birth, R L Swihart now resides in Long Beach, California. His poetry has been published in various e-zines and in print. Currently he teaches high-school mathematics in Los Angeles. His work appears in Offcourse Issue #19, Winter 2003 and in Issue #13, Spring 2002.

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