ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

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


Three Poems by J.R. Solonche.



In the house of salt, every window is an open wound.
In the house of fire, there is no light.

In the house of dreams, there is no rest.
In the house of women, there is no opportunity.

In the house of steel, there is no need for iron.
In the house of laughter, there is no need for jokes.

In the house of ice, there is nothing to drink.
In the house of the moon, the sun is the devil.

In the house of nightmares, there is no mercy.
In the house of butterflies, moths are not welcome.

In the house of mirrors, your face is your life’s work.
In the house of piety, there is not enough pity to go around.

In the house of toys, there is no need for wisdom.
In the house of bells, there is no need for conversation.

In the house of heroes, the story of the coward gets longer with every telling.
In the house of hell, only the ceiling is fireproof.

In the house of the sky, you must never look down.
In the house of circles, there is no need to think straight.

In the house of the future, you will live like there is no today.
In the house of the valley, your dreams are the echoes of your days.

In the house of numbers, all names end with a question mark.
In the house of rain, you reach your destiny only by river.

In the house of history, you will carry 10,000 flags.
In the house of honey, only silk flowers may be arranged in the vases.

In the house of wolves, who will tell the bedtime stories?
In the house of hours, minutes are your parents, seconds are your grandparents.

In the house of clocks, calendars are holy scripture.
In the house of nails, not forever can you hide your hammer.

In the house of hawks, you must perfect the art of disguise.
In the house of music, there are more secrets than keepers of secrets.

In the house of courage, there is no need for fathers.
In the house of books, there is no need for doors.

In the house of miracles, magic is strangled in the cradle.
In the house of dance, only the crippled may walk.

In the house of roses, where do the daisies sleep?
In the house of hair, the comb hangs over the fireplace and the razor blades are bronzed.

In the house of sunshine, the shadows never lose their edge.
In the house of prayer, the cries of the hungry forever go unheeded.

In the house of comedy, the worst of tragedies is silence.
In the house of hope, the light switches read on and on.

In the house of lost causes, the soapboxes are in the garage, neatly stacked.
In the house of flattery, how do you know which one to imitate?

In the house of happy endings, the sadder the beginning the better.
In the house of impossibilities, forty times forty is not time enough.

In the house of strong opinions, the facts are the first to leave the room and the last to return.
In the house of mistaken identities, all love is irksome.

In the house of secrets, blackmail is for breakfast.
In the house of hypocrisy, the name on the mailbox is Politics.

In the house of paradox, the poet is always welcome.
In the house of poetry, truth lives in the basement, language in the attic.

In the house of certainty, the foundation rests on the skulls of the mistaken.
In the house of dust, death feels right at home.



The best ones are the small ones,
those you need to hold in your hand
two or three at a time, those you need
to feel for size, and shape, and heft,
the blunt, the sharp, the smooth,
the rough, the square, the round,
the firm, the soft, the ones like rocks,
like bricks or stones in streams,
the ones like clods of soil or clumps
of clay, the ones you pile to build
the whole world with, and then
the ones you hurl to bring it down.




My neighbor
is ninety-one.
She is in front
of her house.

I see she can
still water her
flowers with
a watering can.

(She is wearing
a white hat.
The watering
can is white.

The flowers
are lilies, daisies,
and peonies,
all white.)*

*At first I did not want to mention this, even though it is true. The hat, the can, the flowers were all indeed white. I did not want to bring it up because I thought you would not believe me. I thought you would think that I was making it up, inventing it for effect, for symmetry’s sake. As you can see, I did mention it. I mentioned it because I need to trust you. The poet always needs to trust the reader. Agreed. However, as you can see, I put it inside of parentheses. Look, even coincidence has its skeptics. Even trust has its limits.

Four-time Pushcart Prize as well as Best of the Net nominee, J.R. Solonche has been publishing in magazines, journals, and anthologies since the early 70s. He is coauthor of PEACH GIRL: POEMS FOR A CHINESE DAUGHTER (Grayson Books). His Poems appeared in Offcourse #42, in #45, Four Poems, in #49 and in #51 and #54. His poetry book, Beautiful Day, is forthcoming from Deerbrook Editions.

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