ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

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


Poems by Daniel Y. Harris.


The Half-Light of Credulity

But it was precisely because it was an empty game
that Baudelaire enjoyed it. Nothing gave him a greater
sensation of freedom and solitude than empty, sterile
acts which produced nothing, a phantom evil which
was pursued and suggested rather than realized.

—Jean-Paul Sartre, Baudelaire

Dear Yahweh, the unformed is trussed up
as a sacrificial droid, waiting to speak
the rupture of your epochal stint in clay—
ruptured and sutured, speaking the fissure
within divinity but not divine, nor even dim
scintillae of what is hazard and named Ayin,
to quell the aegis pleas for a place, a time,
a people, a craft. My letter is preemptive.
My prosody, the result of a blur in the gleam
of irreverent requests to change names
and be spectral like a Griffon Vulture. 
It’s my only chance at progeny. My fault!
I remember Abram from Ur of the Chaldees,
remember the boils spilling bile below a low
sun firing at the edges of a resolute blessing.
I remember the back of his eyes, that “Father
of a nation, uniformed in dark allegiance
to a Book,” above staves cursed by vows
to taunt the nimbus of blue sapphires.

What’s in The Book? Where is the “cavernous
spell” that has coerced a thousand generations
of devotees and radical unbelievers colluding
in despair and dry cynicism to stress the precise
date of its death? I, pursuant to protocol to provide
clear access to The Book say, “I am that I am alone,
and have no life without you.” I erase traces
of theogony. I replace exegeticals with rebuses,
desperate to identify sinews that connect
the burdens of our names. “A,” the Alef
lured from the Resh of my name, produced
The Book. Abraham/Adam—Rayin/Yahweh:
the fourfold tongue cast in a diurnal panache.
The Book is a vessel containing the point
from which nothing has cracked to extend
out of itself. Alef: the first and last point
at which zero is filled with a chimera/corpse,
hollow body, the last of the slurred clangor.

“Be like me O pods of simulacra, but if you
are, I, the Lord of The Book will terminate
you and watch.” Tribe names end with “M,”
Matronita, the “Mem” in tears created a glare-
eyed Leviathan, Eden's oily conduit to a
cemetery of dead letters. We are the perco-
lating letters of names without end, speaking
with circumcised tongues, babbling to divide
identities from the mystic equity of response.
Here’s one. When I repeat your prayers to walk
“a path beyond the powers of the Creator,” I
tremble in myself, a private anguish, to find
myself in a room full of mirrors, surrounded
by people who all have my name, who all look
like me—me the fissure, the dark chasm,
groping for a rib, which is The Book—to
count the letters, the veins—the hapless
jubilo of distress, that I, Rayin Lev,
make of your monodies of trust.



The Pseudepigrapha of No

No act that strips identity, to gut the spoils—
No path that skins value and leaves a husk—
No ultimacy of aim and torment—

No trait with its genes of renown—
No tiered apex of height and depth—
No cartography of region—

No simulacra of zone—
No apocrypha of priority—
No polis bartering for betrayal—

No consensus, the glossy speech of one—
No secret to spark a paradigm shift—
No shoot out of the stock to pass on—

No terrain of closure to use like tongs—
No unified blank, emptied full—
No return of twittering machines—




Headlands in 1992 in a World War II bunker
littered with cannon mounts and a ladder leads
to a steal casement pit echoes the violence
of defense the dead wounded terrified and
xenophobic warn the actors to beware speak
in rage voices part metal part without lungs 

a cement ecosystem a wind from the latrine
back away thespians with your film set blight
and random array of musical instruments dark
even lit by your spots the semaphores are demons
little if no patience for art irrelevant they think as
they walk further down to gut the desire for

film on the garde yet play to personify urges
of acting styles intent on altered mood must 
capture on film the bunker functions to protect
borders from a Japanese threat from the Pacific
were soon transformed this was by rote 1920s
German Expressionism part Bergman part

Tarkovsky to a student film by the 1990s
the Bunker captures the occult of rite replete
with a naked man wrapped around a pole he is
chased captured and skinned by men in robes
and animal skin hats as the fury of Miserere
notes clangs gothic drones as extras mill
about in sleights of kitsch and slack call
stiffs dead to no one but themselves.


Daniel Y. Harris is the author of Hyperlinks of Anxiety (Cervena Barva Press, 2012, forthcoming), The New Arcana (with John Amen, New York Quarterly Books, 2012, forthcoming), Paul Celan and the Messiah’s Broken Levered Tongue (with Adam Shechter, Cervena Barva Press, 2010; picked by The Jewish Forward as one of the 5 most important Jewish poetry books of 2010) and Unio Mystica (Cross-Cultural Communications, 2009). He is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee. Some of his poetry, experimental writing, art, and essays have been published in BlazeVOX, Denver Quarterly, European Judaism, Exquisite Corpse, The New York Quarterly, In Posse Review, The Pedestal Magazine, Poetry and Poetry Salzburg Review. His website is


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