ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Three Poems by Nicholas Messenger



“Do you like infinity?”
Of all the ways to interrupt my reading.
“Like”? Well yes, it has a lot of depth. Eternity.
The endless. Limitlessness yes. Yes? No!
I take it back. Unless... No. All that restlessly receding
everything. “Is it a good word?”
“Good”? Well, I suppose so.
In itself. But, for itself? What other way
could it be spoken? Being essentially absurd
would gobbledegook serve better?
What sound would it be in onomatopoeia?
Probably we need a very small dry
unembroidered term for it. Perhaps a single letter.
‘O’, which is already an apostrophe
might do the trick, since ‘A’ is taken, as are ‘I’
and ‘U’. I’m sorry, what exactly is it you were asking me?




I think it must be time for another sacrifice,
the Queen remarks. And the youths lap with renewed enthusiasm
and the maidens yield more eagerly to their humiliations.
Nothing like being topmost on the list of tasty morsels
with the daily hope of suffocation in a holy grave
to sharpen appetites and encourage application to the toils of pleasure.
And if the King indulges these extravagances, and maintains
an air of bored cooperation more in keeping with his hauteur
as his virgins simper and ape ecstasy on the divan,
he knows you do not have to labour for submission
floating where so many are submerged in acquiescence.




Was it really Winston Churchill said that dogs
look up to you, that cats look down on you, and hogs
look you in the eye? Well anyway
it was Herr Teufelsdrockh said that about the swineherd’s horn.
I never realised the swineherd, every day,
collected everybody’s pigs and took them to the heath to feed.
And when he brought them home, they peeled off one by one
at their own cottage gates. Now there’s my sinecure!
You’d see me at the crack of dawn in gabardine and leather breeks
blow their revelly. And as the goats were scrambling up to manicure
the furze, and bees were lugging yellow pails, I’d wallow in the beds
of weeds, with, in the doctor’s words, “the happy hungry quadrupeds.”

Nicholas Messenger has won the Glover Poetry award in the 1970. Collections of his poems are available thru Academy Books at

His most recent work in Offcourse is in issue #44, Three Poems .

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