Offcourse Literary Journal
ISSN 1556-4975 

Poems, by R.L.Swihart.

Mercalli I

K. always slept well.  On April 13th he dreamt he saw uncle Ezra escaping
From beneath a streetlamp, woke with the resolution to learn Italian
And vaguely remembered counting, without arriving at a final sum
The leaning towers of Venice

A. didn’t sleep at all.  She read until two, checked in on the kids
Called her mother, and finally, as the living room whitened
Saw clearly the genesis of the crack


Unfortunately too little is known about the Newport-Inglewood
Fault, and no expert has ever suggested it could open
So selectively


A. spent the entire day with the kids, K. stayed in the bedroom
And surfed the Net

Not until noon of the following day did normalcy reign again




Last winter I. saw Aix in orange and Rouen in rose
And now, flash off, he secrets photo after photo in St. Vitus
Until the flower dies

After dark he finds Lennon well lit, wishes for a warmer coat
Under Jan Nepomuk, dances with a she-devil
And hurries to St. Nicholas


On Kyrie eleison his eyes lift to the vaulted saints
With Lux aeterna his body spirals home 



Junk Shop

Beyond the breakwater, the mother of mirrors
Frames another child in wood, marble
Or composite

It was understandable, it is understandable
But not in the way it was

In the middle of the room, with old masons
(Mason, Ball and Kerr) crowding round
The myna bird speaks in tongues

And the shit’s still piling up



The Redactor and Q.


  1. Orchestrating a blue horizon the baton is passed from palm to palm.  Feral parrots tear at dusky pages and drop white gloves for luck.

  2. Opting for ipsissima vox the Redactor fills Q. with oil of lavender, the breakwater in Menton, and a half hour or so in Cocteau’s chapel.

  3. Colmar. In a Mercure Hotel he ousts the angel of Bethesda, plays the Tolstoyan.  His leather sandwich is ragged and thin.

  4. Winter without snow.  The Redactor and Q. cross the grassy apron, enter the Unterlinden, spend the morning beneath Grünewald’s Christ.    



Abstract on Black


  1. A bird flies overhead.  A bon mot filters through the hedge.  Without batting an eye, the magician sits in his garden.

  2. As long as I can remember young men have been leaning on lyres.  Orpheus, Lennon, Dylan.  In the barking dog I hear the voice of a friend.

  3. Pitch by number. Paint by number.  Sudoku.  Number in lieu of truth.

  4. As long as I can remember I’ve been reading in the dark, extrapolating presence, hoping to say more.


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 #24, Fall 2005, Issue #19, Winter 2003 and in Issue #13, Spring 2002.


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