Offcourse Literary Journal
ISSN 1556-4975 

Three Short Pieces by Charles Freeland.


Charles Freeland teaches at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio. Recent work appears in Margie, The Cincinnati Review, Harpur Palate, Bombay Gin, Juked, Shadowtrain, Mad Hatters Review, and Cream City Review. The recipient of a 2008 Individual Excellence Grant from the Ohio Arts Council, he is the author of several chapbooks of poetry, including Furiant, Not Polka (Moria), The Case of the Danish King Halfdene (Mudlark), and Where We Saw Them Last (Lily Press).
His website is

Trotlines Implicit Thus Far

The day has its own agenda. Anyone caught out in the open then had better have his facts straight. And his scarves handy. Otherwise, there will be a great beating of timpani, like that you might expect at the sacrifice of a virgin. If it were to take place in Switzerland, say, rather than on some island in the Pacific. Still, he misses the banter because it was numbing. The sort of thing that made your palms ache and the aspirin rattle in its bottles. Those that have a tint like liver. They make you realize what ails us is the ability to see through walls. To know what is coming before it comes. And even then, we do our best to act surprised, as if we think the performance itself is what matters. It will get us into at least one marriage bed before our time is up. Before the lines appear in the forehead like the representation of mountain ranges in those rolls of papyrus one finds in the desert, and nowhere else. After all, the climate there is conducive to making things stick around. It hardens men to their fate like bricks in an oven.


Disembarked at Civitavecchia

Traditional buffalo skewers seem appetizing when you read about them late at night, your foot already showing signs of age by tingling and looking, at the end of the bed, like a shitake mushroom someone left out overnight. After the courageous diatribes. The African-American history laid out in a six-week course, with packet and invitations to the golf tournament. The heart accepts the void when we begin, looks at it as something inevitable because how else are you to get any work done? Where will the incentive come from? Jars of licorice? Banana boats loaded down with anything other than their namesake? I doubt the truth when it is labeled as such, the thing that brings people to the counter because they are afraid of missing out. Of turning into the very thing they fear the most. A ranting, x-rated version of their uncle when he thought he was building a boat slip on someone else's property. Even Saladin knew where he wanted to go before he ever set out to get there.

And maybe I'm old-fashioned, but why are there graves without bone fragments in them? Why are the elevators forever going up as well as down? Terrific ailments to choose from, says the masseuse, not altogether convincing in her laconic tone, but then, she was never much for subterfuge. She holds her poodle in her arms even when it's raining, and the walk to the high-rise is extended by a matter of seven or eight furlongs simply due to the soil's soaking up all that moisture.

For the Sake of the Fair-Ankled

He understood he was being rebuked without understanding the niceties of the message, the argument per se. Sisters, always with the sisters. Or the aunts who are sisters or the grandmother and her sister. And every now and then, throw in a child who is deceased, who has gotten that way through no fault of his own. The reference shelf is almost completely empty, reports to the Secretary to the Department of the Interior coming due and no one left to type them up for a fee. Remember when you could buy almost anything at the drug store? Lion cubs, dish towels and Listerine? Whole wheelbarrows full of sentient beings and necessary products that seem, now, to have vanished quite into thin air. To have evaporated with the heat of the volcano and the seismic disturbances beneath our feet. Perhaps this is why we spend so much of our day, each day, drinking. We find the most comfortable bench on the square and try to stay out of sight of the sheriff, of our former professors. The Economics chairs, the masters of rhetoric. Even those who started off in potato science and worried their asides would all begin to sound like Russian novels stacked up against the inside of the door. In hopes of keeping someone from pushing through, I suppose. Someone who might insist otherwise that you marry her. But only because she thinks it something expected, something given, like that portion of the lips that separates them from the surrounding skin. That forms a line so subtle, even the torchlight can't set it off properly.



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