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 Richard Fein



There she is, whoever she is, for there are many ladies
on the floors above me paying our landlord's monthly rent.
She descends with face veiled in darkness
for she carries just one candle
on this citywide power-failure blackout July night.
I believe, I believe I see,
not a nightgown but a heavenly robe
floating down the stairs step by step
lit by the golden light of the that yellow flame.
A walkup apartment angel, a light-bringing lady Prometheus,
deigns to descend to my level,
And then her face, finally I behold it.
no angel but instead Mrs. Garbano that bitch,
that heavy footed, loud-mouthed third floor harridan
that she-devil who deliberately, defiantly,
stamps down on my ceiling from above,
She is now hauling down her trash to the incinerator.
on this noisy, noxious sweltering pitch-black night.
And yet for a moment, a rhapsodic moment, my eyes beheld an angel.




I've taken stock and stacked a triage,
what to take, what to leave,
and in between the maybes,
And in my shuffling
of all my childhood to grownup stuff
memories rise, float, and sun-sparkle like unsettled dust.
The movers come tomorrow.
but it's those maybes that still loom.
A toss into the trash would lighten my load.
Toss everything and there is no load.
But like Louis Leakey pressing his squinting eyes close
to the rocky strata at Olduvai gorge,
I'm possessed by the riddle of my origins.
I envy those who can travel without baggage.




Every murderer is reacquainted with the murdered,
every conman meets a sucker again,
every robber who left someone penniless on the street,
every perpetrator, every victim,
every victim turned perpetrator,
and perpetrator turned victim,
is choreographed for the final square dance
as the caller calls for do-si-dos,
"forgive your partner, round and round, forgive."
For is this is the much hoped for end-times dance hall?
But do you really want to square dance eternally
in a forced lockstep with such partners whom the matchmaker picks?
And who is this caller, this hoedown emcee, this matchmaker?
Is he called lord? Is he called devil?


Richard Fein's poems appear in many web and print journals: Reed, Southern Review, Roanoke Review, Skyline Magazine, Birmingham Poetry Review, Mississippi Review, Paris/atlantic, Canadian Dimension and many others. He was a finalist in The 2004 New York Center for Book Arts Chapbook Competition. A Chapbook of his poems was published by Parallel Press, University of Wisconsin, Madison.  His work appeared in Offcourse Issue #52, March 2013.

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