ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


New Poems by Richard Fein



"What do you see, Amos? He asked. A basket of ripe fruit, I answered.
Then the LORD said to me,  The time is ripe for my people Israel; I will spare them no longer."
Amos 8:2

And as always the elegantly bedecked find their place cards at the table,
take their cushioned seats,  and pick at pomegranates with forks stained purple as stale blood,
the juice dripping down bloated cheeks and patted dry with napkins.
The gods hovering over them are reduced to angry waiters,
ordered around, poorly tipped, and seething to present the final tab.
And so the head waiter, Jehovah, screams in Amos's ear, 
prophesying  a cornucopia of calamities from the sweetness of fruit.
For sweet soon turns cloying then vinegary sour.
In time all table fruits spoil; In time there's a scavenging of spoils.
For there are always salivating onlookers 
pressing  against gourmet ristorante windows,
eager to barge in, kick out the overstuffed diners,
overturn  their chairs then right them again and draw up new place cards.
And with the shiniest silverware these new gourmands will gorge on freshly served fruit
and spit out the seeds.






Listed in the alumni Who's Who as address unknown,
and after having thrown away every reunion party invitation,
she finally had a reunion in the emergency room──
had slit her wrists, was bleeding badly.
Upon recognizing her lost sorority sister,
the doctor's bloodshot eyes widened to gentleness.
She dropped her clinically sterile mask.
But her patient's eyes narrowed, her face scowled,
"you never knew me. I never existed."
Then she who wished she never was
turned away from the star of the alumni Who's Who.
Nevertheless, the doctor stitched together the gaping wound,
stitches skillfully sewn,
but a deep chasm remained under the nearly lethal gashes.
The pager summoned the alumna  away,
for the doctor had so many others to cure.
But she promised she'd be back
to close the hospital bed curtains around them both
and talk through the night as they did long ago.
Then that patient, that bleeding sister, lay in bed
and in her wounded wrists felt the first healing itch.






Digital photo of gorilla by R. Fein

Photo by Richard Fein.

Cronus was a real bad dad and not to be confused with Chronos, the personification of time.

Comes a time when —
an aging stallion is outpaced by the herd it once ran with,
a stripped-of-scales sardine drops out of its school,
a bedraggled mallard no longer can fly tandem with the rest of his lute.
Comes a time when —
those left behind must elude alone, all alone,
a pack of wolves, a shiver of sharks, a boil of hawks, a nest of vipers, an ambush of tigers.
Comes a time when —
all must face talon, fang, claw or hooded reaper,
but are no longer clothed by a surrounding crowd.
Comes a time when —
covert camouflage calls out loudly,
uncloaking a  gazelle and turning it boastful before a pride of lions.
Comes a time when—
one is culled out from the rest.
Comes a time—
to have bones picked clean by
a murder of crows, an unkindness of ravens, a congeries of eels, a wriggling of maggots.
Comes a time when —
a drove, yoke, mob, lamentation, exaltation, covey, plague, swarm, parcel, parade, flock, loveliness,
and even a seduction of sailors,
are ineluctably decimated and then decimated again,
until there is two, until there is one,
until there is none.
A parliament of owls or a shrewdness of apes clearly see that
comes a time when—
one must ascend heavenward through a kettle of vultures.
But the fathers of time have no collective noun,
for there is only one father time, one Chronos
who like the Greek god Cronus,
sires then devours his own children.






You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar,
is a prolix proverb, for only honey is needed.
Flies would never choose vinegar over honey,
any more than a sensitive ear would listen
to an acid tongue over a sweet compliment.
Besides, honey is sticky, all sweets are
even sweet lies,
so why bother with sour pickle juice?
The necessary and sufficient axiom need only be—
you can catch more flies with honey.
But when the fly finally finds its amber ambrosia,
its feet sink deeper into, its mouth is gagged by,
its spiracles are stuffed with
that viscous fluid,
and its eyes are turned useless by that golden glob.
After buzzing around it finally rests,                                                             
forever stuck in a cloying ambience,
suffocating in its saccharine heaven


Richard Fein was a finalist in The 2004 New York Center for Book Arts Chapbook Competition. A Chapbook of his poems was published by Parallel Press, University of Wisconsin, Madison. He has been published in many web and print journals such as Reed, Southern Review, Roanoke Review,  Birmingham  Poetry Review, Mississippi Review, Paris/atlantic,  Canadian Dimension, Black Swan Review, Exquisite Corpse, Foliate Oak,  Morpo Review, Ken*Again   Oregon East, Southern Humanities Review, Morpo, Skyline, Touchstone, Windsor Review, Maverick, Parnassus Literary Review, Small Pond, Kansas Quarterly, Blue Unicorn, Exquisite Corpse, Terrain Aroostook Review, Compass Rose, Whiskey Island Review, Oregon East, Bad Penny Review and many others. He also has an interest in digital photography and many  poetry magazines have published many of his photos.
Samples Of His Photography Can Be Found On Http://Www.Pbase.Com/Bardofbyte  

Richard Fein's work appeared in Offcourse #33.

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