ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Scott Keeney


Things To Do When You’re a Poet

Graze the sky or stay inside.
Collapse all the time.

Notebook the sun.
Ramble the rain.

Move to the city
or think a lot about what if you did.

Dress in black
and tell the world about it.

Drink too much coffee
or Red Bull or wine.

Wonder if you should change
a word in a line,

like Red Bull with Yoo-hoo
or it with tea.

Break with a tradition
few folks know.

Read your works
in a bar with smoke in your throat.

Protest and criticize
and make love all the time.

Submit to everything.
Teach or don’t teach.

Curl up
in a form

and dream
while you sleep or don’t sleep.




Sorry, I didn't mean to
call you ordinary.
Sorry, but the Pixies
were playing in my ear.

Sorry, you complete me.
Sorry, I wasn't thinking.
Sorry as in sorry I
was hoping to tell you.

Sorry as in family.
Sorry, I forgot.
Sorry, it's Tuesday,
it's September, I'm late.

Sorry from surrow,
the same root as
surrender, meaning
“punched in the belly”

but also “knocked
up unintentionally.”
So obviously sorry
is related to surprise.

Sorry, I have to.
Sorry you called.
Sorry, I nailed your
clothes to the wall.



Empty Among

An empty bed, as if to know you better
the wind lessened, then ceased altogether
dirty dishes in the sink. My hand
is where I need it to be. I did not know
like a violin bow drawn across
the small space of now
that assembles and dissolves,
my animal friend. Someday
my teeth will be gone, but you will still
be here, won’t you? I miss
the ghosts of the wind in the house
the way I would miss your neck
to kiss. Would. Would you draw me a picture,
please, show me red apple slices among.



File Under Loss

I lose what I save—
old poems, books, music,
pain—thrown out
with a move, erased
by the juggernaut
of daily routine.

I drink tea, so I get up
for the day. But I don’t
get up for the day.
I get an eyelash in
the green tea of my eye,
and I go back to sleep

where I find myself
filing this poem away.



Balancing Act

I see my eyes in the rearview mirror
and I know the way a pigeon knows
where the bread crumbs are
I survived the sharknado of 2013.
But as people move on, we get ourselves
over the godforsaken it. We happenstance,
we doctor, and, most of all, we tease.
We twitch and bite the therapy of a cool breeze.
I pour myself a tall glass of water,
take a sip and set it on the counter
where it will remain all day and night
I’m as bad as one of the kids.
Hands-free, I move on by not moving on,
mending the broken heart of an unpaid bill.


Scott Keeney is the author of Sappho Does Hay(na)ku. His work has appeared in Columbia Poetry Review, Court Green, Mudlark, New York Quarterly, Poetry East, and other journals. He lives with his family in Connecticut, where he is production manager for a publishing services company. This is his first appearance in Offcourse.

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