ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Bruce McRae

Years And Years

The lithe years, to be admired
for their rare vintage.
The mumbling years, yet to come.
And this last year, squatting
like a horse sitting on its hind,
awkward and unnatural.
A year of bone china breaking
and cultivated bloodstone.
A year rattled and rumpled,
my time spent ducking under
a low beam and falling branches,
the others, in their fine apparel,
living sit-com lives of operatic splendour,
affording sentiments like greeting cards,
the likes of I a chimneysweep,
a poacher on the outskirts of civility,
the one they send for to be sent away.
Who calls, but they will not answer.



A word under a mountain
or hid behind the woodstove.
A word against deviltry,
a hypothetical construction
spoken by a trousered ape.

A word that means something
other than what it means.
Graced with veins and speckles.
With pieces torn out of it.

A word in conjunction
with another word.
You say it and it stays said,
 though it can never be written.

The homesick word,
overwrought with describing itself,
pleading for absolution.

Words foregoing the alphabet
and changing into names,
into numbers and colours,
into pictures blurred by sentiment.

Look at this word a long time,
an intellectual exercise.
Read into it what you want,
definition a shackle,
every syllable a lip split.
Every word a bloody mouthful.


Turn Right And You Can’t Go Wrong

Dawn’s persistent tug,
rain tapping out its complex code…

Waking tired and in need of a second night.
Getting in the last word first,
addressing an imaginary audience,
the birthplace of logos located somewhere
between the gag reflex and collective sigh,
any potential editor reaching for their blue pencil.

Coming to my senses
before the big star rises and distant suns fall out,
clouds parting to reveal more clouds,
like a brain-fog clearing, the need
to express what’s unsayable to the fore.

And just what are we going to do about it?          


                     The best damned whatever wherever…

When reaching for the high shelf
it’s ideal you steady yourself.
Courting miracles spurs disappointment.

And still we martyr on,
striving to perfect the imperfections,
tossing coppers down the wishing-well,
striking out for the halls of heaven.
What else would one be doing?

Today I’m putting on my trousers
one leg at a time, effort it’s own reward.
Today I’ll burnish eyelets,
my woes sorted in alphabetical order,
our numbers numbered, stuff buffed,
a stern letter written to the authorities,
the dog fed, the garden weeded…

And having divined water in a desert
I might feel smug, put my chair back
and take in the smoldering vista.


Everything is anything and something is nothing…

Turns out these poems don’t have a centre,
aplomb and panache headed west,
the last hanger in the closet clanging,
dust devils dervishing in the inkwells,
the dream-dogs slipped their collars.

And now the mid-winter blahs have set in –
blah blah blah being the gist of it,
the gospel according to Saint What’s-His-Face.
Another day in the come-what-may,
every syllable a dull edge, each trope a firefly
you hope to jar and display,
communication tenant to the human animal.
Another day at hand and we expect big things,
disappointment a salve for our convictions.


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, while in July of this year, another book of poems,  ‘Like As If’, will be published by Pskis Porch. His poems on video can be viewed on YouTube’s ‘BruceMcRaePoetry’.

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