ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998.


Poems by Robert Joe Stout


My Fifteen-Year-Old Son


hoists himself up hospital steps
without my help, crutches swaying
beneath his weight, then stops,
chest heaving as I ask,

“Are you all right?” He nods
and side by side we bump past
white-frocked orderlies and bawling babies
to the X-ray corridor
to wait until his number’s called.

“Your ankle hurt?”
He shrugs, nods, shrugs again,
squinting past the hunched, the hurt, the hobbled
until at last his turn comes up.

“Hotdogs?” he asks as we stump towards the car
and I say, “Sure.” He leaves his crutches
on the seat and hops
on his good foot to order two with everything.
Side by side we sit and eat,
long silences between few simple words.

Then, “Thanks, that sure was good,”
meaning more than just the food.







Community Theater


Computer off, I closed my eyes,
began reviewing lines. Instead of
the electric fan I heard proscenium
curtains creak and I inhaled, permeated

by a sense of people waiting, watching
...then caught my cue. Chain-mail heavy
on my shoulders, sword hilt in my hand, I paused
and spoke, my voice not just my own but ritual

repeated countless times by actors
good and not-so-good—and bad. And the applause!
Communion of emotions merging in a magic thrust
—like leaping off a cliff and floating

past the swirling lights, becoming Bob
again backstage with Joyce and Mike, Samantha,
Fred and John. "How do you feel?" I'd asked
an actress years before—a different opening night—

and she'd replied, "Stuffed with strawberries inside.” 
As though the next-day world were some detached
remedial life—with office desk, unfinished work,
that stunned my opened eyes. 




The who I was
has sprung a leak
and gushes faces,
kisses, naked breasts,
all those lovelies
long forgotten
(some imagined?)
and some nameless

the who I am
a fragile shadow
of emotions past
as I watch others
saunter past my window,
so inviting, so abstract.




With music comes my mother
sheathed across the windows, furniture,
intangible but visible without obscuring
bookcase shelves, the sleeping cat,

the bathroom door. She both is young
(as in the photographs) and fragile, old,
sheltering a life I lead inside a presence
much like hers, revealing little

and confiding less. She moves her lips
as though to speak and I move mine,
reach out, connect somehow as music
and her presence fade. But stay with me, inside.



Journalism, 2007

The ‘national press’ conceives a primordial reader: the President of the Republic…”                                                              --Carlos Monsiváis
                                                      The Press and Power in Mexico
Words sliding from official tongues
define wealth,
describe crime
—all one needs to know

while anger slithering through gutters
dirties lesser minds


More about Bob Stout at:  Robert Joe Stout @robertjoestout
His work appears in Offcourse #61.

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