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 John Marvin


pissing on the marches of a putative reality beyond mathematics
            and the range of current observational devices

It is the ultimate cosmic irony that recombination allows decoupling without which vision would be impossible so no one would know whether lilacs last in the dooryard bloomed or a rose is arose is eros whose arrows try to but never succeed in traversing the Eleatic solid filled with forests made invisible by the numerous trees and white-tailed deer without the wits to build a civilization up from the ruins of a disastrous war marked by explosions and diversions of life-sustaining caresses and multiple contusions confusions transgressions and the lessons of a history never remembered in the ensuing confusion electromagnetically displaced by experimeters and microbabblers analeyesd and disembered by wild haired sages grunting it's alive all alive oh and hauling test tube barbies off in a red wheel barrow through streets wide and sparrow droppings invisible on the crest of the new fallen snot-like volcanic ash smothering horny roman noir in their tracks like instant records of the trajectories of uncountable fragments of colliding strings of ultimate reality as ironic as that may seem in the beam of a super conducting super colliding dream machine sleeping under infertile westerly soil awaiting the final defense of angels and ministers of grace.



Schatten Freud

shrouds of green-grey hang across the face of an evening sun
and rumbles in the west threaten quarter moon starlessness

while back lighting illuminates edges and spaces between banks
while candle light from Cabaret Voltaire spills down to that curb

while watchers watch a body move as word or woman word
while Lop Lop clucks through projector lamps and shadows lithe

while eyes follow puppet forms of Asia and the moon
while doubled motion knocks socks off iff you can can can

until a neutron cat hisses disapproval at dada dancers motions
anticipating joy at their failure to persuade lyric chanters

that her chant or dance her chanter dance her shaping song
her opening openings like vowel shapers oval and dark

her neverness seething wet as morning threatens to astound
an ending unseen in smoky lipstick and ordinary wine



no one knows if bark
means the call of a dog
under a bright moon
perhaps over hunger
perhaps about loneliness
in the cold of a winter night
along the bank of a frozen river

no one knows if bark
means the covering of a tree
old and riddled with burrows
hiding insects gnawing through rings
so the old elm or oak shivers
ready to fall into undergrowth
that had huddled in its shade

no one knows if bark
means a sailing vessel
with tattered canvas
having served to catch wind
to carry crews across a warm sea
year after year as cargos dwindled
and wherewithal for maintenance
escaped in gentle breezes
and in storms

no one even knows what is lost
since bark is merely ink
a set of marks
upon a yellow page
in an empty room
its door closed



Wit and Wisdom of the Ancients
Part 5: Ejecta from the Dow De Kaching

            "Though he slay me, yet will I trust him."
                                                King James Bible

            "He may slay me, I'll not quaver. I will
              defend my conduct to his face."
                                                The Anchor Bible

Projectile alimentary evacuation hurts plus boils
and who would have guessed that Seinfeld's ejaculation
"Numen!" expressed revulsion at the spiritual presence of the wholly other
seen only with second sight like clouds around doomed suitors of Molly Bloom
or bloody perspiration oozing from temple walls of leverage and debt.

What have we come to accept of the wretch and flamous?
Excess and insensitivity duped and driven by those numen daimons
possibly inhabited by that popper numen and his element cardinal numen?
Whether jjoist or not they remain abeam with self-importance except those
who are never wrong because they're never right

and for the others nothing short of divine vision
or a new cure for the clap will stay these couriers
from their absorptive clowning soaking up applause
as they keep those planks together with will power
or tar recently bubbled up through bones and hats

while sun on an ancient sea sends messages of gleam
about islands made of white white stone and powder beaches
where fishermen dry and mend old nets and smoke pipes
with strong sweet liquors standing by in clay cups
fashioned lovingly by crafty widows with gnarled fingers.

Wrinkled skin weathered by salt spray and radiation
tells a story no one knows for sure but guesses
under moonlight and olive trees older than memory
and twisted by the hot winds of summer
offering no relief to those who know it's wrong to ask.

On the other hand perhaps fishing is just another game
as Heraclitus suggests with bones that rattle on paving stones
carved from inferior marble because the best is reserved
for discus throwers and gracile statues of Aphrodite
her robes tossed over her shoulder as she smiles upon us.


John Marvin is a teacher who retired and subsequently earned a Ph.D. in English at SUNY Buffalo. He has poems in scores of journals, and literary criticism in Hypermedia Joyce Studies, James Joyce Quarterly, Pennsylvania English, and Worchester Review. His book, Nietzsche and Transmodernism: Art and Science Beyond the Modern in Joyce, Stevens, Pynchon, and Kubrick, awaits a publisher.  This is his first appearance in Offcourse.

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