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 Diane Louie


Breaking The Fall

In rain, pampas grass
            saddles the air, waves
                        wind slowly
like the cumbersome necks
            of cattle. Fog. Fog,
                        all furrowed in fog.

Comes the place where I haul
            grief from its barn
                        moulded hay, rusted hoes
the body too disheveled
            for this work. Breathing
renders air as cloud.

Comes the dream where I spurn
            words which can’t heal
                        gaping black stalls
rain rotted roof
            and the body falling out
                        and the body’s monologue.

Still I would burrow into grass
            the yank of wet cows, hold
                        my breath against a barn’s
rank heart, huddle naked
            if what restrains me
                        might speak aloud.



Sappho Says

She loved her husband
on the days he left
her beside the well
stones slopped with water
women pressing to
fill not their buckets
but their hampered lives.
Love not those, she could
have sighed, who berate
you for entering
into consort with
your heart. So did she
love her husband when
he stalled against her
speaking, her public
home? She could have left
him yet she bore his
child, and slept and woke
for time, each breath, the
blossoms of her flesh.
She taught her daughter
how to gather plums
before they fell, how
to tell the oldest
truth, to speak aloud,
her own clear voice a
windswept branch stunning
lovers, rivers, shrouds.
I’m sure she meant to
tell her that to live
within the world would
be to live in love
but surely she could
not call it love, the
day her husband left
her in the shadows
of the white stone walls,
the day they burned her
poems and he returned
to her with folded
dampened cloths to
cool her skin, her now
encumbered silence.




Who Will Open The Door Of G-d If You
Knock On The Door Of The Mind?

Who will take me farther than the field
where the stone wall splits the barn from
desire for the barn, milk spilled, heart’s
water now a river, the can, a rusted can,
who will carry me again? You must know
every friend who passes makes me suddenly more
fearful for your presence. You must know that
walking toward the gullet of an empty barn or
backing off from one does not impede perception.
You must know I’ve come to your thin air before.
My own silence I learn to live with, yours
I merely bear. Who is that, harvesting the wind?
And who, culling shadows from the moor?
What now the sky, but the heart you know encountering
your freshly painted door.


Diane Louie's work has appeared or is forthcoming in Cloudbank, Antioch Review, The Iowa Review, North American Review, and elsewhere.  Her novel, Plumbing Olympus, was a finalist for the 2014 Fiction Collective 2 Innovative Fiction Prize.  She lives in Paris, France with her partner, a research scientist.


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