ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

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


Poems by Chris Crittenden.


it was easy to feel ankle-chained
to the neighborhood.
its transistor-like fences,
and pomeranian-sized lawns—

as if the will
of the residents suffered a hex.
only fishbowls with their blobs of poi
trending nonlinear.

how to find voice
among cathodes and laminates?
no Muse braved this straight-laced
stratified oasis, except

once when a coyote
wormed under a construction fence.

wakes of worry
followed the beast’s deviant slouch,
fawning over every plump
cosseted cat.

no one could ever truly leave.
escape was circular.
they always returned, became
their own replaceable part.

women took up
the software of the smile again.
men shook hands as if gears had meshed,
a fingerworks of pawls.



Freezing Rain

the brindled sky
lobs its glutinous drool.
lazy paws of syrup
rake glassy power lines and torn trees.
for hours the assault gnashes,
from lamppost to neck.
those who cleat their soles
stab boots down like a weapon.

streets coagulate
in the slogging flow,
their signposts numb and moot,
overwhelmed like old statistics.
cars glaze into caravans of ice sellers,
marketeers in tandem,
the hands of the drivers
nothing but tongs.

only manhole covers gloat,
their avarice a fluke,
smiling from mouths of dirty trickles.
such crude, negative emoticons—
circles of alligator metal—
everything that once spoke of towers
slouches their way.


Abort Paternal

she floundered
over the castration
of he who once spoke so bold,

and the rage of the culprit,
who slid the knife
across the metaphorical


and whether blame
meant anything, divided

between her self-
hatred and the in-
put of the father


he could not die,
had an armor stoic and savvy—
as in get-out-of-sin


socially approved
and generally loved

and and

he would continue
in the grave, bigger perhaps,
unable even in a cartoon version

to shift, but maybe

his lies could be murdered
by unplugging the nightmare
from the underbelly

above bruised thighs.



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.” His work has appeared many times in Offcourse.

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