ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Michael Fisher.


The character Ψ [psi] can best be described as follows:
The letter psi is commonly used in physics for representing a wavefunction in quantum mechanics, particularly with the Schrödinger equation and braket notation. It is also used to represent the (generalized) positional states of a qubit in a quantum computer.




I know
           this world
is a drop of  dew  pepsi
but Ψ                    but Ψ

how's a beer commercial a poem?
                                        (black tie and black spats
                                                       muscloid juggernaut)

children go to church
read from Leviticus
and never learn
about cancer

delivers faith to their mouths
                                                they exhale cantos

it's all a bell jar
with fissures Ψ passes through





I get confused
                      by simple questions

daydream, write friends letters
                                   at least in my head
No, they never get sent...

I taste bitter smoke
feel air molecules and entropy
in faces
           stories kept secured
behind thick flesh                                                                 [no stanza break]
I think it's time to let Ψ in




“Prosody” uses images from “Eric Weissteins's World of Science”

for letters                         
                        boil ridden
                        (those will fester)
                        for warmth                                         
                        often found at endings                                   

beware if it smells almondy                                 

 if there is no heat move on                                 
there's always another poem
like a genderless
figure in a rear view mirror

(consider: FIRE! vs fire
the prosody of the first [f] & [r] blister
but the second a whisper
vowels that save us from cold)


but if a word warms hands, smash her, grind the bastard's head to paste
before she wraps her arms around you
an embrace to move you to sing an honest song
or let the word's malnourished voice carry nothing                              the end is zero




Ψ wants purpose, fabricates purpose, creates purpose, wants not purpose-
less, a scythe, a scythe to mow the lawn, a purpose, blades
too long, blades made short

I'm a soft shell
but in time
will roast like corn

what has been lost, what has been weighed, what the lost and the weighed
& what is gained & what is lost and what is weighed and gained
and lost & what is the what

Ψ does origami
to stop his thoughts
            he lights the bare bulb lamp

folds create shade golems

shadows which move on their own to New York
to swagger pass parks, puke poetry and warm beer

they live happy in closed boxes like schrodinger's cat
bless to be alive and dead
                            (to know both secrets)
until Ψ lifts the lid to find if he has bad news



Cigarette Burns

part I

 a film whispers to  Ψ
in dark nondescript clicks
                                                                                   but still
frames camera's pans stumbling
 to tell  Ψ a story                                                              but still

a lead character out of focus
represents out-of-focus-living
packaged morals and lessons
                                                                       but still

off camera a voice calls
steve”            “steven”
pathos charismatic
each actor a mark
of true sincerity
                                                                       but still
                                               part II

Ψ don't know much about cinematography yet moved
ends his evening in tears                              but still

he though he made friends to join for drinks
while right angles―corners of earth
                                                       but still
without character
celluloid lovers
he hears dear death haikus over an empty parking lot
halogens overhead
pinpoint isolation
                                                                       but still
                                        candy wrappers & ice
                                                                       drenched by cola
                                                                       disappear in storm drains
                                                                                  might he join them



An Explanation of Ψ

I confess this Libretto is:

a wound I licked                                                                                                                               dream of violins
fluke of static                                                                                      an unpublished manifesto a cabbie read me
misfired synapse                                                                                    missing potholes among rants against government
a face I mistook for someone else                                                                feedback, both musical & ethereal
an alarm clock that never went off                                                                                         sounds of an old metal fan
conversation in a foreign language                                                                        a lingering thought for your hometown
a building and all the people that lived there, the over growth dead, weeds to remind
bills I forgot to pay                                                                                                                               novels read backwards
a doctor's appointment I skipped                                                                                                 fallen power lines
a friend I don't talk to                                                                                                                                 cramps late at night
a two dollar bill I didn't know I lost                                                                   scattered white streaks of a dried marker
an accident that never happens                                                                         a shore house in Gloucester, MA
a song I'll never hear again                                                                                                pealed red paint has the answer
blue balloon floating to invisible                                                                                            a colony of fruit flies
ash from a fire years ago                                                                                                         blood from someone suffering
a phone number of no one I know on scrap paper traveling by wind across the city
seven digits circled with a heart                                                                                        secret pledge to yourself
a puddle that dried up                                                                                                              skin before the bruise spreads
a faint circle on the sidewalk                                                                                         and the skin after it heals
wine down the drain                                                                                                                          foo-fighter in peripheral
a bride's maid at Dooley's Cleaners, corner of Richmond and Elm, she was in red
I never saw her face                                                                                     a composition created from books in land fills
glossolalia in margins                                                                                                                          morals eroded in plastic
another message to stop                                                                                                                        poor eyesight
footnote praise                                                                                                      bass clarinet stepping over music
child's footsteps                                                                                                                   a viral video no one sees
the strange sounds of a pan flute I hear every summer around midnight, is there anyone
spoiled milk                                                                                                        the genius of a man who can't write
a lecture by a dead professor                                                                              a line of poetry I can't remember
the smear of finger prints                                                                                  no pen, nor paper, nor recollection
                                       on a glass against the setting sun
and the slant light from stain glass church windows

Ψ take out the wrinkled photo behind your credit card
yellow smudged by fingerprints―a black eddy memory
                                                                             you won't throw away

make a pack with no one
to use your real name

Author Bio:

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