ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

A journal for poetry, criticism, reviews, stories and essays published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Twine, a poem by Ricky Garni.

I never gave much thought to the simple labeled jars of fruit preserves. Their bottles are shaped like drinking glasses, pleated on five sides, and their tops are covered by white and red checkered cloth bound by twine. There are blackberry preserves, raspberry preserves, strawberry preserves, blueberry preserves and five fruit preserves.

Now five fruit preserves is the curiosity. One would think that they probably contain blackberry, raspberry, strawberry, blueberry and one other preserve. But what would that be and why does it not have its own bottle, bound in twine?

Then again, it may contain five completely different preserves, starting with peach and apricot and orange and then two others. But why don’t they have their own bottles too, bound in twine?

It’s possible that some preserves, like peach and apricot and orange, only taste delicious when they are stirred together into a single jar and not by themselves along with two additional preserves. The additional preserves may be blood orange and tangerine. Or nectarine and one other.

It’s also possible that you could stir raspberry, strawberry, blueberry and blackberry together and arrive at a whole new fruit preserve. Then you could stir raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, blackberry and the new preserve together and have five fruit preserve. The new preserve would of course be raspberry through blackberry, and it would get confusing, contained together as they are, but then again if you put four things together you almost always come up with a fifth new thing that is nothing like the four things at all. Especially when they are bound in twine.

I am thinking of cars, and composers, and oil paints, and trees, and flower gardens, and guppies, and herbs, tin soldiers, movie stars, fingernails, smooth stones on the beach, hair from wigs.

  1. none of them make up five fruit preserves
  2. like fruit preserves, if you mix any of those groups together you end up with more than the sum of the parts
  3. unless you notate what you are doing it is entirely possible that no one would realize that cars, and composers, and oil paints, and trees, and flower gardens, and guppies, and herbs, tin soldiers, movie stars, fingernails, smooth stones on the beach, hair from wigs have anything to do with five fruit preserves in that together they are greater than the sum of their parts
  4. take careful notes
  5. be careful not to talk too much about binding things with twine




from the Weekly World News, 1987

Did Nikos Binoki pop
popcorn with his mind
on a faraway island
in Greece?
Yes he did.
And it’s piping hot!
Yes, it is.
But in a way it is not, also.
It is not.
Nikos Binoki.
Piping hot.
Also, not.




I needed to buy a pair of shoes but I didn’t have any money. Naturally I thought — what could I sell to raise enough money to buy a pair of shoes? I looked around my room and all that I could find was a pair of shoes.

Well, I figured I could sell the shoes and then I would have enough money to buy a pair of shoes. I might even have a little bit left over and perhaps I would buy a smaller pair of shoes with what was left over.

I knew that someday I could regret it, and miss my shoes, but I figured with two pairs of shoes, one just a little bit larger than the other, I could sell them someday and make enough money to get my shoes back.

I thought of it as my security against ever having to lose my shoes. Well, of course, I do lose my shoe a little each time I do this, and each time I do this I feel my heart race a little bit, but I know that I will always end up

With what I want, which are my shoes, even though sometimes I say “Farewell, goodbye!” I never really mean it ever, or at least not forever, and I only say it to myself, in my room, and my room has no windows, and it is locked, and it makes me happy, my feet, they make me happy.




I am tired of Edward Rochester saying that he is ugly in JANE EYRE.
I am tired also of Jane Eyre saying that she is plain in JANE EYRE.
Although Edward Rochester is actually ugly.
Jane Eyre is not plain. She is in fact beautiful.
How do I know this?
I saw the movie.
I do not like books; they are cumbersome.
And they describe things poorly. How much richer
is the experience that you can simply look at.
Sometimes I drift off to sleep.
I awake to a movie, a voice, the sight of the book on the screen read by Jane Eyre.
The book fades away and all I see is Jane Eyre. She is beautiful and delicate.
Uh Oh. Here comes Edward Rochester, and on horse no less. How ugly Edward is!
Will you be my wife, Edward asks.
Jane Eyre looks into his eyes.
Edward asks --------------------------
The wind whips itself into a fury; the lightning cracks a tree in two.



History is so much more beautiful when you are a baby.

Ben Franklin:
flew a kite: that’s all you need to know.
Now you like Ben Franklin.

Jesus said:
Do you know how tiny a mustard seed is?
It’s tinier than your pinky.
Jesus was funny.

Napoleon said:
My muscles are big.
Were they?

That’s enough for today.

Tomorrow let’s go outside and see the sun.
It is bright and shiny like a ball.
It goes everywhere and it doesn’t rain.
If it did something would be wrong.

Ricky Garni is a graphic designer living in Carrboro, North Carolina. His work can be found in Evergreen Review, Camel, Saloon, Used Furniture Review, Orion Headless and other places. His latest poem is called How They Kill Men in Chicago, taken from the 25 second movie of the same name, produced in 1900. In the spirit of overkill, the poem takes four minutes to read.

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