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 Robert Hirschfield.


Matinee At The Smadar

It does not matter that we wheeze
looping leg around leg
bought for twenty-six shekels
with our senior discount.
We know that the young Chinese lovers
cycling through the Cultural Revolution
trapped in Mao’s winter truss
will never slow toss
their bodies of silk
onto beds at noon,
or know, as we know,
how light, when aroused,
explodes on the tongue like salt.



Alzheimer’s Psalm

When you forgot even the bananas
thrown down to you
in steerage,
the river we’d both
been dragging snapped and broke.

You taped a psalm
to your spider hole
and sat me down
roughly like a god,
one son,
one heap of gristle music.

In my bowl of Egypt,
between doorposts,
I watched you hide the old prayers
beneath the fish scraps.

When we talked, it was only about Pharaohs.




for Miriam

Saturday mornings,
when God turned the Bronx
into Riyadh,
and hid my mother
behind lengths of tribal gauze
beneath the “4” train’s slog to Woodlawn,
I’d send my goblin fracture
whining back to Babylon.

Children who lose hope travel far.
In Jerusalem, there is a pang sometimes
when you close the bedroom door
to keep out the dog.

Your caresses map me.
In six years, you will be eighty-three,
her age when she died.


Robert Hirschfield


Robert Hirschfield is a New York-based poet whose work appears in Salamander, Tablet, European Judaism and other publications. He reviews books of poetry for THE JERUSALEM REPORT and Sojourners.



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