ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

A journal for poetry, criticism, reviews, stories and essays published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998.


Two Poems by John P. Kristofco



My father said our name was different once,
back beneath the Bratislava hills
that held his parents, pebbles in a pocket
cast for luck upon the water,
wrapped in all they had
and washed up to the Ellis Island dawn

of their new day and name,
Kristovka, Kristovska,
what the hell, “Kristofco”
scribbled on the dirty form;
“move along, Kristofco;
we haven’t got all day.”

And so those tired pilgrims moved along.



Senior Pictures

in a box inside a cabinet
with matchbooks, picks, ticket stubs,
all the armament I thought I’d need
to lift and turn the world another way,
tilt it so the sun would never stop,
these pictures that we gathered in immortal days,
waiting for the world to call, “save me!” in its eyes;
hair we patted right up to the shutter snap,
smiling like we thought we should,
some heads cocked, some straight into the lens,
others looking to the space beyond the man
like they saw’ the light’ or Jesus there;
straight teeth flashed, others shut off from the world
like our souls, though we didn’t know it then,
hope and fear, lies like Brando’s eyes,
James Dean’s jeans,
all that life waiting like a dam
to burst, stream out, stagnate,
betrayed by wind and rain,
not ready for whatever crooked sun had planned,
the rise and fall we all would make,
elevators we would take, pushing all the floors,
praying not to be forgotten
with the braces and the acne cream
long ago discarded like these pictures,
gathered in a box
kept behind the closed door of a cabinet.


John P. Kristofco, from Highland Heights, Ohio, is professor of English and the former dean of Wayne College in Orrville. His poetry, short stories, and essays have appeared in over a hundred different publications, including: Folio, Rattle, The Bryant Literary Review, The Cimarron Review, Poem, Grasslimb, Iodine, Small Pond, The Aurorean,  Ibbetson Street, Blue Unicorn, Blueline, Sheepshead Review, and Slant. He has published three collections of poetry,  A Box of Stones, Apparitions, and The Fire in Our Eyes and  has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize five times.
His work has appeared frequently in Offcourse.

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