ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

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


Three New Poems by Chris Crittenden.

Break Down Out

everyone was broccoli on a platform,
encased in an eggshell of face.
what would the incubator of
sameness give birth to?
who wasn’t a vegetable
trellising off a brainstem,
into a cortex of the latest
fashionable florets?
it was senseless yet true:
people were Henny Penny
with the top of their thoughts cut off —
the country is falling! the country is falling!—
because some tie-noosed guy, lord of fear, says.
why such ill and ugly wrongs
below the false clean?  the surface rote
more persuasive than logic?
the pretty pony pose that bids us
pretermit our hearts?
it wasn’t as if they wouldn’t die.
wouldn’t herd, funneling, toward collapse. 
they were bringing it down
on their own lack of foreheads:
making the sky fall by thinking
the sky must fall if they thought
about why they thought, blindly,
the sky must fall.


Ex Exec

entropy is to warmth
what gold is to light.

the meat of hills
cringes near our ace of spades.

we are futures-diggers
who run circuses

whose emptinesses
are everywhere.

we who plant ourselves
wherever cash can,

feed off whatever victim
can be amortized.

our gold stairs link balusters
and scaffold toward

a soot-red sun. 
not even beggars

can hop off this monopoly wagon.
everyone is tasked to smile

while locust shiver
in their throats.


Sync Fail

drowning from the sky,
though it fretted above him,
its smoke the cowl of the rush,

it became clear that streets were timecards,
and cars ogreish,
and people had no face.

who dreamt this city?
what cramp in a convolution
of profit was he?

the ground slid oddly
in trapped angles,
imprisoned by red and green lights.

signposts, a wrath of spades,
threatening to dig the whole shifty thing
into the sewer.

no one was disgusted
more than they hid in a harness of fear.
they embraced the little treats, because

it made them feel Pavlovian and wise.
and the armamentarium of billboards,
and the pharmacopeia of glowing screens,

smiled on.

Chris Crittenden writes from a struggling fishing village, 50 miles from the nearest traffic light.  He was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Vine Leaves Journal for his poem “Hiroshima Shadow.”

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