ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Rachel King



The east side of this state is dry.
I’ll go there when the rain becomes too much,
when I want to see the entire sky
without tree covering. But I won’t want that often.
Most of the time I’ll want the gray and mist
and that damp scent that I don’t know how
I lived for years without.
There was a time, before I left,
when I didn’t feel this weather an anomaly.
I want to feel like that again.
I want my newness to fade
like a trunk fallen into the earth,
becoming moss and humus, a few ferns.



These days, mornings are gray.
I expect the scent of salt,
the sea, not this wet ground, rotten cherries.
The bank manager is on vacation.
The doctor is on vacation.
I hear the freeway all day so I’m not the only one here.
And of course there are the blackberries.
Only one bush ripe now, right outside my flat.
I pluck them as I walk to and from my car,
thinking of childhood, money and ambition,
what we spend our days doing and why.
Unlike my former apartments,
I can’t hear a train from this one.
Highway noises are not the same
as those intent-filled whistles, that quick clack.
I am not getting any richer. Most days, I am OK with that.
One summer, when I worked afternoons at a restaurant,
I spent mornings making as many kinds of pancakes as possible.
Pumpkin, buckwheat, whole wheat, yogurt,
banana, apple, blueberry, blackberry.
For this exercise I went deep into my pantry.
When mornings are warm, I’ll take a pail
to bushes alongside a church and school.
I’ll pluck, pluck, pluck until my fingers are purple.
I’ll find beauty nearby I did not expect.


Near the Solstice

The dog wakes at 4 a.m.,
front legs taut, nose up, wanting pets.

Cherries are ripe, the bitter ones
you must place in a pie.

U-hauls pass one another on freeways,
drivers using the long days to move
in town or out.

Fruit stands are open, two dozen
on the shortest road from city to coast.

I want to drive alone, long distances on back roads,
gauging time only by light.


Rachel King's stories and poems have appeared in journals such as Concho River Review, the Farallon Review, Windover, the Penwood Review, and the Aurorean, and have been nominated for Best of the Net. In addition to writing, she copyedits fiction and nonfiction for West Virginia University Press, Melville House Books, and Perseus Books Group. This is Rachel King's first appearance in Offcourse.

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