ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998.


Poems by Francis Blessington.



Steel cranes swing their empty curlicues.
Little men, perched like blackbirds
on towers and cantilevered bridges, wait to
span the valley with concrete
slabs bristling with reinforcing hairs.
Farmers make money on the shade loss.

But the seagulls see nothing new, no scar.
As good as another train or the first
line of yellow poled lights. Our shock
will re-resolve to flyover arches
and black rock and accustomed noise.

A falling turbine of white truck dust powders
the workers’ cars back to cattle standing in mist,
Caesar's dust, a gorge of bones, cooling gasses.



First Place in The Freedom Tower/World Trade Center NY Poetry Competition (2009).

Reflected Absence

                  (9/11 Memorial)

Bombardment from air—

Green space fills the void to think the void.

Plato thought substance and space
the same because interchangeable.

But what of the smoke that was air,
the air that was Them?

A breath of shade and rest
to reminisce the Missing,

Their vast interruption
of air and light and place.

The airiness of towers
to depth to solve hate:

Twin waterfalls always echoing.
Twin wells always refilling—




Back in the bar
built like a Viking ship,
two men in dark
suits, like priests,                                        
compete and sell
farms and water rights,
behind the blue-fire
shields of their laptops.

It’s late in the Swedish
tourist season. A vacuum cleaner
wheezes in the emptied
hotel hallway where
a burning mead hall
hissed itself out.

Today’s king struts outside
in a blue business suit
abreast with half
a dozen friends.
A storm assaults the coast
like an armada.

He once needed
to call a greater entourage,
mount his charger,
take hostages for his safety
and build this museum fleet
of vast canoes:

That deluxe black ship,
hulled for far waters,
moored in a bay during plunder,
the littler pleasure boat
that toured his queen,
tenders, dragon bowsprits
for maneuvering
dream offings,
then waked under hills,
bejeweled with rust,
with sacrificed servants,
and leaders in denial.

Most buried boats wasted
to sand. A lucky few bound
for this theatre
to live and rig for us
the emptied cabin chamber,
the prows pointed, tarred, ready.

In the parking lot a felled and stripped tree
rests like a battering ram.

Francis Blessington:
I have published two books of poetry. Wolf Howl and Lantskip. My poem, “Reflected Absence,” won first place in the World Trade Center NY Poetry Competition on 2009. My verse translation of Euripides’ Trojan Women won the Der-Hovanessian Prize for the best translation in 2011. My translations have been performed at the University of Chicago, Athens State University, and professionally in Boston. I have published verse translations of Euripides’ The Bacchae and Aristophanes’ The Frogs, a verse play, Lorenzo de’ Medici, Paradise Lost: Ideal and Tragic Epic, Paradise Lost and the Classical Epic, as well as many essays and stories and a novel, The Last Witch of Dogtown.

My poems have appeared in Appalachia, Arion, Cumberland Poetry Review,  The Dalhousie Review, Denver Quarterly,The Florida Review, Frank, Harvard Magazine, International Poetry Review, Light, Literary Imagination,  New Letters, The Sewanee Review, Southern Humanities Review, Southern Poetry Review, The Southern Review,  Yale Literary Magazine, Yankee, and in many other journals.

This is Blessington's first appearance in Offcourse.

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