ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Three Poems by Phil Brunetti


Cat Piss & Crucifixions.

I was just a few minutes
Ago, gonna put down a poem
Called “Cat Piss &
Crucifixions”, because i’d
Just gotten out of the shower, after being in
Bed for two days with
Strep and 102 fever, and i
Ate leftover wonton soup,
Took a shower and
Then stood in the waxed
Sunlight pouring through the
b.r. window and I spotted
Water beads on my shallow
Chest and felt my
Legs wobbly and my
Scrotum sag but i
Looked liked Christ with
Water drops as
Blood and they became

I put my big toe
On the pedal of
The compact metal trash
Bin and it oyster-shell
Opened (no pearl) and I
Dropped in bloody tissues,
And up wafted the
Reek of cat piss—
            So strong, pungent,
Amniotic, lethal in Large
Doses, something like
WWI and the
Truncheons tied on belts,
Preying-mantis gasmasks
Full on with black
Tubing and graying,
Toxic leather.

It’s all like this
On Saturday afternoon when
You lie in bed two days
With fever and becoming
Religious again and understand
The destruction of everything
That’s old in you and
How much time is there left
And if any of this
Matters can you come home
In the right time
And shape?



The Jaded and Morose.

When your wife calls you
Jaded and morose you know
Something’s working, like you’ve
Married the right woman or
Something, or there’s more
Cats in the universe
On your side than
You planned.

I like such a happy
Surprise—it makes me
Melt in the jurisdiction
Of the marital bed,
The place where trust rots
And rusts unless there’s
The proper climate—
Half icy, half hot(tie)
            And then there are soldiers
On the news returning from
Afghanistan or the Roman Coliseum
And you’re glad they
Won’t invade your home
Pillage your belongings
And sodomize your wife.

In the tricks of the trade,
Remember there were magicians
Once?—so in that trade,
With outspread hands and
The dance of busted-brim
Top hats, snapped canes,
Leaky carnations, and
The daft mustard gas
Of past wars (e.g. WWI)—
I see it
All, I see it all.

One last time i’ll open
The trapdoor of revoked imagination,
Uncloset the closet,
Spit silk into the
Death, right?
Like a right-hand man
Or a sorry sonuva bitch.
Quantum mechanics:
It doesn’t matter how many
Dimensions there are if
You don’t feel them—
            Push myself to
The extremes, can’t hold
Much touch in the center,
Hold hands with the crags
Of cliffs, the spleens
Of buffalo.

And a truck-stop,
Once, maybe in Kansas City
Or Colorado outside Boulder:
Two chickens running through
The lot pecking the dirty
Tires and squawking by
The Coke machine.  “Kiss
Those chicken lips,” my
18-year-old guide
Told me, her sneaker’s
Toe circling
In The dirt:
            So I Did.



The Bastards.

You’ll never  leave me sniffing
Like a dog on all fours
You bastards, and although
I’ve already done this, and
Continue to do this,
You won’t leave me
This way.

She’s trying to seduce me
Again with her blond whip
Of a ponytail, askew,
Off to the side, exposing
One gemmed ear and
Then pointing down
To her pink sweater
Black leggings
Suede, sequined

(La Strega, instead)

I was in trouble in Rome
I didn’t know anyone, didn’t
Love anyone.  There was
A party I wandered into,
By mistake, without a
Plan, or forgery.  Welcome
At last by all the people
Who didn’t know me
And even the woman
On the balcony, so come
Hither, finally a feeling
Italian donna, but over
By the oven, back
Indoors, with her crossed
Legs on the counter,
A broom on a hoop
Behind her, a cat and
An iron-cast pot,
La Strega,


Phil Brunetti lives and writes in Brooklyn.  Current venues where you may find his work are online at The2ndhand, Word Riot, Offcourse, Thieves Jargon and decomP Magazine.

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