ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998.


Poems by John Grey



Those in the backseat were singing themselves awake
while my wife shone a tiny flashlight
on the map of West Virginia,
its beam the closest light has ever come
to shrugged shoulders.

For some reason, I kept repeating
the word 'ornithorhynchus’ loudly,
surprised that it swum its way clear from the
sorry swamp weeds of my mind
and yet warmed by its appearance.

Those behind me were brought back from the brink
of dozing by the oddness of my word.
They figured it was Gaelic or Alien.
My wife reckoned it for an insult
especially reserved for those who miss an exit
in the dark.

I drove on, smiling,
having suddenly reconnected
with a semi-aquatic egg-laying mammal,
duck-footed, beaver-tailed and covered in fur,
a tiny creature common but rarely spotted
in the cool mountain streams of my childhood.

I could, of course,
have cleared things up for all fellow-travelers
with my creature's common English name of platypus.
Or even salved my wife's pride with a simple,
"No problem, I’m exactly where I want to be."

Instead, I kept on saying 'ornithorhynchus'
over and over and over
as I drove headlong into who knows where.
For I can't be lost when I have lived other places,
lived lives other than this one.
Ornithorhynchus -  some words run deep.





An Mp3 player
with a choice selection
of jazz and classical,
always at the fingertips
of my ears.

A tablet
that contains the complete
works of Dickens,
Shakespeare and Victor Hugo.

An ATM card
that allows me
to access my money
in any country on the planet.

A credit card...
I can buy the world
and have it shipped.

A cell-phone
of course...
I am in touch
with everyone extant
from my mother
to the English queen
to the President of Russia.

A laptop
with the Louvre,
Yahoo News and
Harvard Law
as favorites.

The truth is
I can’t leave home
without me.





A morning looks through those
who are already sipping something
with comingled smiles,
loses the shadow of their gaze,
and only later, does it contemplate
the eyebrows' arches
with kind, bewitching force.

And, though branches are still leafless,
from roots to crowns,
they gleam spring radiance,
are instilled with song,
sparrows parlaying buds on boughs
into notes on staves.

The day starts virgin, never-used,
in a trembling lip, a brace of folding fingers,
as eyes gleam like metals,
and hearts as rose gardens
rise up on their stems.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, Perceptions and Sanskrit with work upcoming in Big Muddy Review, Gargoyle, Coal City Review and The Coe Review.
This is his first appearance in Offcourse.

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