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 RL Swihart


A Little Romance

A chopped salad and fallen flower cover the marble face. The scratched record of EZ’s voice
still rises from the evangelical section (Recinto XV: Evangelico): Make it new

Tillich and Bultmann—angels not buried here—are in some incorporeal corner
quibbling about the lyrics

Some would say DJ is more Nots than Ises. Still. For this act he chooses to use
an old vinyl and turntable, his master’s voice


Buttons and flaps secure, spinning on a nickel (she’s dizzy about so many things), the lovely
Gaia rushes headlong toward her attractive lover



Moore on the Good

What good is a can of mandarynki? (Please, have a piece of mazurek.)
What good is emotion? Drain it and make a poem

It’s not unlike word golf, J. thought. But there are differences.
The endpoints (arguably always linguistic constructs) are somewhat ill-defined
and, in retrospect, only the more prominent stepping-stones survive

These days J. often plays the game over coffee, with the aid of a smartphone:


This morning he’s reading (lacklusterly) Christa Wolf’s Medea: a chapter is a voice
and the epigraph is a quote from René Girard’s Violence and the Sacred (the first
scapegoat = the first word): Lévi-Strauss (structuralism): the rebus of a gerenuk:
Correspondence Theory of Truth/Language: Derrida: there’s only text
and meaning is always deferred




Theology and psychology: both in search of an absent other, both employing
the language of myth

How will you set things right? The toolbox hasn’t changed. A hammer is a hammer.
A saw a saw

Might be fishing. Forcing it. Leskov’s Katerina vs. Sonetka: pike on roach. Her
and the girls

J. thinks (at times) he has built an oasis. He can touch the world but it can’t touch him

Road trip: North by Nowhere-specific. Ojai, the last Sambo’s, some Sisters, Harmony
(Pop. 18). He turns around after visiting a plot of land in a dying stand of pines.
One jagged bole (a round hole is an eye) is later tagged: Arboreal Fish

Only Hero? Only Victims? Only Witch?

Everyone has their Ficciones

Binging clears things up a bit. The takeaway is: Moment is Torque is Moment, unless
the Torque is a Couple

History of the Lobotomy. A showboating Dr. Freeman once performed over twenty in a day. The last lobotomy he performed was in 1967. The patient, a Helen Mortensen, died three days after the operation. She asked for the operation. It was her third lobotomy

The soothsayer up the street, Uncle Joe, had predicted it: J. and M. return to Menton. They have always remembered La Salle des Mariages, the Bastion and breakwater, the sunburst from behind dark clouds. They unofficially renew their vows beneath embattled constellations.
The girls are witness. Afterwards they enjoy Moroccan


R L Swihart currently lives in Long Beach, CA, and teaches high school mathematics in Los Angeles. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in various online and print journals, including Rhino, Right Hand Pointing, 1110, decomP, and Pebble Lake Review. His first collection of poems, The Last Man, was published in 2012 by Desperanto Press.

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