ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Prose Poems by Gerry LaFemina.


A Long Prose Poem in Sections about Big Foot


This is where we would see its big foot print.  It's got big feet and its tread is deep.  We can see the crevices and creases of the soles in the dirt.  We cast with plaster.  We call the state police, the Discovery Channel, our cousins, but nobody comes.  (They’ve heard it all before.)


Yeti.  Sasquatch.  Big Foot.  Abominable Snowman.  So may cultures swear by the thing it’s hard to imagine they’re all in on the same impractical joke.  Although in the Pacific Northwest I can imagine some tall guy’s gone back to nature a little too extremely.  He walks naked and has let his hair grow.  It’s matted and adorned with burrs and leaves.  Birds are no longer scared when he reaches past their nests to pick some berries.  His old high school basketball coach still bemoans the fact the kid never went pro.


Therefore, there’s a little Big Foot in all of us.


Sure there have been hoaxes.  There have also been sightings, strange evidence, lore, PBS re-enactments and staged recreations.  It changes how we look around us when we’re alone in the woods and dusk approaches.


Sometimes I believe Big Foot’s just like us–just bigger, hairier, and as articulate as a teen boy.  That’s why I like to imagine a garage band made up entirely of Big Foots (the correct plural for the beast, though if we were talking about what Big Foots walk on we’d say big feet): The Big Foots.  Yeti Van Halen plays guitar.  Yeti Vedder sings. 


We all know the arguments against Big Foot.  We can count them off on our toes.  Most skeptics try to trump us, curious how we’ve never found Sasquatch remains, never caught one or even caught one clearly on film, never read any of their newspapers.  However, there is a Nepalese temple that houses an interesting artifact that just might be a yeti skull. 

There was also a giant Big Foot who just grunted and scratched himself in his side show cage, and which toured with the Stenson Family Circus from 1911 to 1913 when he escaped after a train crash outside of Spokane.  An accident that happened under suspicious circumstances, many eyewitnesses said giant bipedal shadows wavered in the near darkness.  Sure it was a clown who told me this, but he wasn’t laughing.


I’ve read the papers.  Read all the reports and secret dossiers.  I’ve interviewed my neighbor who holds his hands 20 inches apart, claiming “The footprint was this big.”


Maybe they’re just smarter than us.  Maybe they’re scared.  Maybe they’re part of the Jungian Collective Unconsciousness.  Maybe they are the last remaining Neanderthals.  Maybe they don’t exist.  Maybe they’re flying those spaceships I keep seeing in the news.






Pancake House is Made of Pancakes

            –headline from the Weekly World News
            – for Lori Yoder

Pancake house is made of pancakes.  Treehouse is made of trees.  Townhouse is made of towns: Frostburg, which is frigid; Friendsville, where everyone knows your name, is neighborly, hugs you when you leave; Mechanicsburg, where everybody owns a tool-set, gets greasy in their garages; Laboratory (Pennsylvania) where the houses are all test tubes, each family an experiment; Eighty-four (also Pennsylvania), that town of octagenarians.  Of course, the greenhouse is made of greens–100 shades, and its lawn is a putting green.  Animal house is made of animals.  Ditto doghouse, specifically dogs.  And the birdhouse is made of birds, though right now the walls have flown off–a flock of gulls and sparrows.  See how they’re gorging themselves right now on the roof of our pancake house.






Picture Books of Blue Faeries and Unicorns

– for Julianna Baggott


In the nursery, in the bedroom, on the living room sofa, or on the rocker, parents are reading books with pictures of unicorns and blue faeries.  And why are the faeries blue?  Because there are no more unicorns, because the children who love such stories now, who love the pictures of the unicorns and faeries, ooh-ing and ah-ing and drooling with each technicolor drawing, these children will grow old and read stories of clues and kisses; because the parents will eventually close the books then box them away; because the children–all children–need to learn sadness more than they need to know how many faeries fit on the tip of a unicorn’s horn, even if people like you and me might disagree.

Gerry LaFemina is the author of six books of poems, including 2011's Vanishing Horizon (Anhinga Press), two books of prose poems, and collection of short stories. In 2013 he will see the publication of a new book of prose poems, Notes for the Novice Ventriloquist (Mayapple Press) and a novel, Clamor (Cordorus Press). He directs the Frostburg Center for Creative Writing at Frostburg State University where he is an Associate Professor of English. He divides his time between Maryland and New York.

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