ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998.


Poems by Donnarkevic



When I paint my toenails
they turn pale, like chalk drawings
on the sidewalk of my youth,
Father pausing for a moment
on his way to work,
saying, Good girl.

When I get my first period
at middle school, drops spatter
the white bathroom tile
like a murder scene
I clean, erasing womanhood
like rain washing away
the watercolor I carry home
from art class, my teacher
saying, Good girl.

When that first boy I let inside me
brings snapdragons yanked
from a neighbor’s garden,
I press them in a book
of Sexton poems.
A month later the boy gone.
The blossoms, blue-violet as a bruise,
leave atomic shadows on the pages
of “Unknown Girl in the Maternity Ward,”
and I imagine the dead-white
of hospital sheets. 





Mr. Jacobs waits for the newspaper,
delivered at 3:57 each afternoon
by a boy hauling black ink
in a pouch like a gangling squid.

While sipping a cup of A&P coffee,
he devours headlines, turning each page
like searching for clues to a murder.
He fingers through the obituaries,
listings of defunct welders, plumbers,
housewives and hairdressers,
lives described with the sameness
of Warhol soup cans.

When he reaches the crossword puzzle,
the black spaces create blueprints,
streets he played on as a kid,
the alley where that boy hung himself,
the corner where a little girl
got into a car and disappeared, she
a penny buried under the dirt of an empty lot.
The white numbered boxes compete
for just the right words like a penitent
confessing without admitting guilt,
the priest administering absolution
without cross examination,
his stomach growling
for leftover stew and buttered bread.

Afterwards, Mr. Jacobs washes his hands,
his OCD bloody as Lady Macbeth,
and stuffs another Times in stacks
that reach the rafters of an attic   
where an unsuspected lunatic
might bury someone,
like maybe the body of a little girl,
the bones kept from rattling,
each wrapped precise as origami,
in newspaper like a set of coffee cups
found at a garage sale
and had for next to nothing.





Diorama, Carnegie Museum

Extinct, two Barbary lions exact
one last lashing out at man,
the camel’s wounds incidental
as suffering is
to a death by hanging.

Survival no longer exists
in the lexicon of the condemned,
except for the words
cowering in the courier’s satchel:
perhaps a peace treaty,
perhaps a letter of condolence,
perhaps a message of love
in dire need of response.

But the echo of footsteps
in an emptying museum
remind me I am a visitor
in the surreal crucible
of art and savagery.
And when the moon of silence
eclipses all language,
the only survivor may be the animal
incised on the ceiling
of some peopleless cave.

Donnarkevic: Weston, WV. MFA National University. Recent poetry has appeared in Bijou Poetry Review, Naugatuck River Review, Prime Number, and Off the Coast. Poetry Chapbooks include Laundry, published by Main Street Rag. Plays have received readings in Chicago, New York, and Virginia. FutureCycle Press published Admissions, a book of poems, in 2013.
This is Donnarkevic's first appearance in Offcourse.

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