ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Louis Phillips


In the narrows of another life
Wind-cooled moonlight
Above the thistle dimmed,
The gadwell’s bek & hue
Whistle down the tide
Where many a breathing thing
To my sleeping side
Purses its mouth, whispering
Me over the precipice
Into dreams where my 1st love,
White-gowned, kisses.
She speaks, urging me to live,
All about me the bulk of song:
Live, live, live,
No finger to her lips: Shhh!




(U.S. Army Communication Alphabet:

Able baker Charlie dog easy fox George how item jig king love Mike Nan oboe Peter queen Roger sugar tare Uncle Victor William x-ray yoke zebra)

CAB me no honeys.
Too old for that,
Uncle Victor William
Can X-ray me , the sugar fox,
& yoke all the zebras.
George the King may love
Mike, Nan, Peter &
Roger the Queen,
But Spikey old age
is nothing to him. To me
It’s a noxious weed,
A tare, if you will.
How easy is that dog?
Can he play the oboe?
Probably not. Item # 2:
One jig for my dame.




Dead leaves in my head
& a hint of ammonia
In the autumn air

With the Concord Squad rattling,
But what do we get in return

When we surrender our youth?

On the outskirts of Watertown,
The conductor appeared.
The solid sound of the ticket punch.

I asked what he knew
About Morpheus & Hypnos,
& other slow sons of sleep?

He replied: They have to have
A ticket to ride. A ticket
To ride. A ticket to ride,

Ride, ride. A ticket. Click.
Click punch click Ticket
Just like everybody else.




Yes, I know you want to get laid,
But may we talk
About something else,
Not the usual sexual squeak & squawk.

What about the oceans of the world?
Oceans are so stupid;
Not one has an I.Q. over zero
& often their tides are ripped

For splendid drownings. A musician
In 1960s San Francisco,
Gazing at that wet vastness of Pacific,
Sighed. "Far out! That ocean is no

Friend of Man. It harbors creatures
No sane person
Wd invite home for supper." Far out.
Indeed it is & conditions worsen

As the heavens heave & the tide
Stutter & stalls.
For eons, oceans have butted heads
Against shore-lines & sea-walls,

Until the seas have no brains left.




Darius Rucker is singing:
Rock me momma like a wagon wheel,
But I’m not listening
All that closely. I am thinking

Of Largo Argentina in Rome,
How it is possible to stand
Anywhere in the world,
In foreign lands or at home

To contemplate History,
Ancient worlds in ruin.
Wind across the poplars,
Patter of soft rain,

Each seems to cry
Why must our statesmen
Send so many of us
Off to lying wars to die?

Rock me momma like a wagon wheel.



Louis Phillips is a poet, playwright, and short story writer. He has written some 55 books for children and adults. His sequence of poems –The Time, The Hour, The Solitariness of the Place –was the co-winner in the Swallow’s Tale Press competition (1984). Among his published books of poems are: The Krazy Kat Rag (Light Reprint Press), Bulkington (Hollow Spring Press), The Time, the Hour, the Solitariness of the Place (Swallow’s Tale Press ). Pleasure Boat Studio has published his The Domain of Silence/The Domain of Absence: New and Selected Poems this Fall. He teaches at the School of Visual Arts in NYC.
His new book, Rowing to the Silly Islands, is available in Amazon.

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