ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

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


New Poems by Miriam Kotzin



When Elvis turned eighty,
I thought it might be pleasant

if he lived right down
the hall from me. Most winter

afternoons he wants
tea and, on his birthday,

cake, as golden as summer,
slathered with marshmallow icing.

I carry a tray to the studio
apartment where he's living

simply.  I never come
empty handed, just

to see him lift the napkin
like the hem of my skirt,

to hear him say, Thank you.
Thank you ver' much.

Oh, Elvis, Elvis,
what would become of me

if I believed you'd left
the building?




To a Man From Last Season

            After William Shakespeare's Sonnet 18

Shall I compare thee to an Autumn's day?
No way, old friend.  You are intemperate.
You stuff your face; and swill the suds. You may
go home with sluts who seek a paying date--
or maybe not, since you're so cheap.  Sun shines
and lights what you would hide in shadows, dimmed:
Your life's in disarray.  Your stock declines.
You leave your hair and graying beard untrimmed
and bleach your ripped blue jeans to shreds to fade
them to imagined fashion. You're the lowest
on any list of "extra" men. Your shade
spreads empty poolside. Is that weed that grow'st
along thy sill?
                                    —I'd give my all to see
another perfect Autumn's Day with thee.




Bluff Note:  Desdemona's Handkerchief

Who would have thought that such a flimsy scrap—
though cleverly embroidered—would undo
so many caught in sly Iago's trap?
He took the straight and made it seem askew.

Iago killed directly, too. His sword
dispatched  Roderigo (duped and then betrayed).
Emilia, faithful wife, though she adored
Iago? Skewered on his blade.

Othello smothered Desdemona who
was innocent though he believed that she
had screwed around with Cassio. On cue
O killed himself to end the tragedy.

They could have all been spared this bloody bother
had only Desde listened to her father.


Miriam N. Kotzin is Professor of English at Drexel University where she teaches creative writing and literature. She is author of a novel, The Real Deal (Brick House Press 2012), a collection of flash fiction, Just Desserts (Star Cloud Press 2010) and four collections of poetry: Reclaiming the Dead (New American Press 2008), Weights & Measures (Star Cloud Press 2009), Taking Stock (Star Cloud Press 2010), and The Body's Bride (David Robert Books 2013). Her poetry received six nominations for a Pushcart Prize. She is founding editor of Per Contra and has been a contributing editor of Boulevard since its inception. Her work has appeared in Offcourse, Boulevard, The Tower Journal, Eclectica and Shenandoah.

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