ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Fred Pollack

From the Water Wars

Their death, however slow, is still
too fast to perceive. I mean
if you keep averting your eyes,
as one does. The bodies
along highways and around
what remains of reservoirs have
a bell-curve distribution. While they
walked they shambled; now
they’re stringy, saggy, funny-looking.
For a while, trucks collect them.
Pedestrian jokes filter
down to the drivers from
the military. “That gal almost made it.”
“Where?” For a while, someone counts.

Not all the employed or soldiers, however,
are crass. One prefers tea
to coffee, though it costs
extra. He makes a production
of steeping and savoring.
A certain pensiveness, a show of
reluctance have become, within limits,
cool. I admit he’s easier
to imagine than people
he kills if they cross
the minefields: he too is privileged.
Objectivity is the last
luxury. The pleasures of brutes
are crude and loud; those more refined look like sorrow.




Through the trees, a bit of the Sound –
sempiternal midafternoon –
and two-lane road. This county escaped
(bought its way out of) the coastal highway,
back in the days of taxes
and highways. A Tesla glints
around a bend. These scraps of outside
somehow don’t make the property feel
smaller. As if on cue,
birds rise. There’s a bird book and binoculars
on a ledge. Rooms away,
a precious polished grandfather clock
clangs. Crumbs and the Times
still lie across the table.
After breakfast it was said
this could all be left for later;
it’s later now, but the principle still obtains.
They’ve all been very nice.
Even left me alone. But the sofas,
the Bonnard, the watchful vanishing dog
aren’t mine. Beyond the trees a Tesla.
Since none of it belongs to me, however,
I don’t experience it.

Author of two book-length narrative poems, THE ADVENTURE and HAPPINESS, both published by Story Line Press. A collection of shorter poems, A POVERTY OF WORDS, was published in March 2015 by Prolific Press. Pollack has appeared in Hudson Review, Salmagundi, Poetry Salzburg Review, Die Gazette (Munich), The Fish Anthology (Ireland), Representations, Magma (UK), Bateau, Fulcrum, Chiron Review, Chicago Quarterly Review, etc. Online, poems have appeared in Big Bridge, Hamilton Stone Review, Diagram, BlazeVox, The New Hampshire Review, Mudlark, Offcourse (2008), etc. Adjunct professor creative writing George Washington University.

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