ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Martin H. Levinson




My nonagenarian paterfamilias sits
in a green cloth La-Z-Boy recliner
watching television, remote in one hand, pen
in the other doing the Sunday New York
Times Crossword Puzzle while listening to
WABC talk radio and yelling for my mother
to bring him a Fuji Apple and a cup of hot tea
he has been asking for for the last ten years

which is not as long as he has been requesting
a TV be put in his bedroom so he can nod off
to the latest stock market updates on the
Bloomberg Business Channel and bushwa on
FOX News that my wife can’t stand because
it’s not fair and balanced like she is compared
to my father who taunts her about being a lefty,
an artist and a cockeyed optimist who understands
nothing about the world but something about
technology that she puts into practice when she
sets him up on Skype, changes the battery in his
cellphone, answers his emails, runs cable wires

from the television in the den to one in my parent’s
boudoir that I bought but don’t know how to
install but she does and will do because
the family grid is important to her.



Singular Dudes


Pooch is a butting, rubbing, pushing, pawing,
   I-want-some-of that-cake kind of cat who
lets me stroke his whiskers and pet his wavy
   marcel coat for as long as and strong as I’d
like. When he stares at me with his slanty,
   yellowish-devilish green eyes I get

the feeling there’s someone home
   in his tabby cranium, that I’m viewed
not merely as a hominid meal ticket
   but as a beasty chum worthy of slurping
and burping beer from a bowl.

Buddy, his younger feline companion,
   is a cat of a different color, a fearful mouser
who after nine years of being faithfully fed,
   devotedly taken care of, sees me as a stranger
in the kingdom of carnivores and a source of
   continuous perplexity and bemusement.
No going to the bar with Bud for wet food, ale,
   and the camaraderie of life forms banging heads
together. No going to the couch for a kneading
   session, plop down, and a restorative nap. No
bounding through the house bumping up
   against each other, but instead

a gentle extension
of a hand for sniffing,
a beseeching
dulcet voice,
a tremulous query,
what can I do
to make you like me?




Thoughts I Had When You Told Me to Eat Shit


Should I have it as an appetizer, entrée,
dessert, in a sandwich, on the half shell, 
a la mode, scrambled, simmered, steamed,

creamed, scalloped, seared, boiled, baked,
roasted, fileted, flambéed, fried, maybe with
a side. Perhaps I can also offer you something 

to chew on, a few sarcastic words to cut you to
the quick, make you feel sick, realize you’re a
dick who likes dumping his venom on innocent

vics, gets in his licks on people just trying to
help him. Or maybe I should simply smile and
say, have a nice day, turn around, walk away

from grief you’ve given me through the years,
listening to your bogus fears of losing a tenured
teaching job, a wife who treats you like a god,

friends who wish the best for you, of which I’m
of that steadfast crew that wants you not to be a
nit, to which you replied fuck you, eat shit.

Author Martin H. Levinson is a member of the Authors Guild, National Book Critics Circle, and the book review editor for ETC: A Review of General Semantics. He has published nine books and numerous articles and poems in various publications. He holds a PhD from NYU and lives in Forest Hills, New York. This is Levinson's first appearance in Offcourse.

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