ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Bruce McRae

Our Town

Our town was so small we lived each other’s lives.
Summer nights we’d gather under the one streetlight
and tell jokes and stories everybody had already heard.
All our menfolk loved the same wife, a frazzled woman
who wore her hair pinned up like a latter-day Katherine Hepburn.
Decent work, you can imagine, was hard to come by.

Our town was so small even we couldn’t find it on any map.
We had to stand on the outskirts just to change our minds.
No doubt you’ve been through our community any number of times
on your way to some other, grander, destination; completely unawares.
And I was the one you passed in the night, hitchhiking in a downpour.
Remember? The one you left behind, and for good reason too.
In fact, I’m still there now, the rain still falling and falling.
Honestly. It’s coming down harder than ever.



On High

It was the Age of Clouds.
Renaissance-clouds. Titian-clouds.
The Cloud of Glory rising on a pillar of light.
Cherubim lolling over the carpets of Christ.
About the same time Bernini was sculpting his Ecstasy
and mother was washing her hair in the sink.
When father still prayed for the souls of the damned.

Myself, I was studying ancient parchments,
trying to fit more clouds into the picture,
clouds thought suitable for a preconceived notion of heaven.

And of course I must mention my brother,
the lost lamb who lived beyond the grace of God.
You may have met him along your travels.
The devil’s madman.



At The Tone

I can’t come to the phone right now,
I’m wrestling the tigers of indifference.
I’m up to my waist in holy water.
The sky is burning.

I’m not in at the moment,
I’m paddling in the piss-green sea,
herding lizards, seeding the stars.
I’m being driven to distraction –
dark-eyed men in hats and sunglasses
are taking me away from myself.

If you must do, please leave a message.
But I no longer have the ability to listen.
My time is tempered by destruction.
I’m made miserable with compassion.


Bruce McRae, a Canadian musician, is a Pushcart nominee with over a thousand poems published internationally in magazines such as Poetry, Rattle and The North American Review. His latest book out now, An Unbecoming Fit Of Frenzy is available on Amazon and through Cawing Crow Press.
This is Bruce McRae's first appearance in Offcourse.

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