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 Molly Kirschner


In Praise of the Ocean

Brine rises up and out of itself,
waves to the magnet moon and you
sit beside it. The seawater

peaks stand proud for an instant before
they cease and resurface.
I knew that pride when I knew you,

the pride that comes with the kind of desire
that withstands even reciprocity.

If the crests think the sky will meet them halfway,
what of it? What business is that of ours?
For sudden height I’d stand to yearn,

splashing madly, humpbacked, misshapen, misguided,
requited or despised or forgotten.



For B.

It hangs by a thread, this inchworm,
but seems to be at home there like a
finger on a lyre.

You worry about your brain, I worry
about my body oh no I ate ice cream it must be
the end of the world!

Not for the lightning bugs
whizzing through the parking lot like sparks
free of their fire.

Not for the hermit thrush,
and not for the slice of moon in the light of an unseen sun,
the lone moon
who goes through phases but remains rock solid. 

With an inchworm in my hair, how can my head
not be a harp? How can I not be beautiful, musical?

And you, in New Orleans, when you’re out by the bayou,
tangled in riverwind, and the water tries to tell you
trees grow down-- don’t listen.

Don’t blame it for imitating you,
your expression, your style of dress. Or for wanting to
claim you, who have been my anchor all my life.



At the Clark Museum of Art

I see the paintings of George Inness with a glittering
finish that makes them seem like they’ve
just been finished. In the next room

 the subject of Boldini’s “A Guitar Player”
cradles her instrument so naturally it’s part of her body,
an extra appendage. She shares a room with Toulmouche’s

“Woman and Roses” in which rose and nose lean at equal angles
towards one another, exchanging perfumes.
Surrounding foliage pretends to close its eyes…

Don’t we all want to be seen
the way Alfred Stevens saw the woman he painted in oil
in “Moonlight” with her hand on the banister of the balcony,
or the way she sees her unseen lover? Her vision expands
like an arm whose reach surpasses its length.
Straight through all that night.

Now I see my friend H staring out the window between paintings—
a contemporary landscape between two French portraits
from the 18th Century. She herself is a contemporary portrait,
in profile from my point of view.
Before the photograph was there such thing as a candid shot?




Calm, I’d like to become you—
fall in the pocket of your palm.
I drift… the earth ascends to
meet me where I am.


Molly Kirschner



Molly Kirschner's first book of poetry, Hard Proof, was published with Red Mountain Press this summer, and was the number one bestselling book from Small Press Distribution in the month of June. Her second collection, Notes for Further Research, is forthcoming from Red Mountain Press in the fall of 2016. Her poems have been published in Hamilton Arts & Letters, Otis Nebula, The Broadkill Review, The Legendary, Rufous City Review, River Poets Journal, Poetry Quarterly Magazineand the Torrid Literature Journal. This is her first appearance in Offcourse.



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