ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Helen Mirkil


Lenten Dream    

In the cold of night
I search for You among wires,
stink bugs, and dust.

Tall glass cabinets
with pictures framed in silver.
But still the darkness.

Parking lots with no lines,
people standing too far apart.
The chilling fog.

Not far, a stone house.
I crawl over clumps of mud
to a basement window.

There is music and light.
A black dog dances,
old eyes looking up.


The Insects Sing                                                                  

                                for Sparky

At night he sniffs the air.
Unsure, head down.
It has not always been this way.

I have to coax him out.
A little nudge, wait,
then he makes his rounds.

Each time the circle shrinks.
Stars poke through the maple,
its leaves now touch the oak’s.

Will these trees be leveled
when we’re gone, will builders come,
unearth his bones

Will I remember this,
the deafening crickets, katydids
no break in the sound

Whether I see him in the dark
or if it swallows him,
the insects sing.

I stand, chill in the air,
his soft coat past my leg,
and up the steps again.

The both of us
are through the open door.



Brown Yard

He barks like a dog
in a brown yard. It isn’t funny
I’m keeping my old car
Fits a three-seater couch
I could take across country
Sleep on it
in a Kansas wheat field

Sparky had surgery
For three weeks he was
a plastic cone-head. It’s not funny
Got his body tube out Friday
Now the aperture farts
Most days he crashes his cone
against the door jamb

Now he waits at the car
I tell him no, we’re staying home
Today this has to be Kansas


Parkinson’s Daydream

Rufus dreams
on the round rug.
Howls, stays
in the dream.

It’s five a.m.
Our road awakens.
Cars trek to work.
Coffee’s in the cups.

My husband, back
after his walk, shaken.
Needing his chair,
says he’s just imagined

a huge spider
taking over his head.
How horrifying, I say
but don’t feel it.

I hate his disease.
No matter what
it advances.
Relentless snail.

The next morning
I wake and it’s spring.
I blink, and wait,
maybe it was a dream.

Rufus wakes.
Bird chatter floats
through a crack
in the window.


  Helen Mirkil is both a poet and visual artist. Her book Sower on the Cliffs, poems and drawings, was published by BookArts Press in 2013. Mirkil’s poems have appeared in Apiary (online), Ruah, Bucks County Writer, The Griffin, Art Times, Intercultural Writer’s Review, and Moonstone 2014 Anthology of Featured Poets.  

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