ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Kevin Casey


Landscape with Pumpkins

Only a fragment of the rainbow showed,
its tag end heeled into the horizon
across the valley. Its blue matched the shade
that outlined the clouds, and what leaves were left
at the bottom of the field accented
the orange band in that partial arch,
and picked out the few wrinkled pumpkins left
along the fence by the shuttered farm stand.

There’s little majesty in the landscapes
in this part of the world, only windbreaks
that tilt toward sluggish streams, tumbling
lines of stone walls and windrows--these vignettes
now washed with a patina like old varnish,
colors fugitive with the fading of the year.

But like a radiant gilt frame that borders
a darkened painting crazed and dimmed with age,
the cars parked along the lane--a dozen drivers
pulled over on their evening commute
to snap cell phone photos of this view--
outshone the humble grandeur of the scene
they stopped to see, the tableau they formed
in their shared impulse more vivid than that vista.


For an Arch Not Built

We have taken it for granted that the Greeks
were ignorant of the properties of the arch.

     — Arthur Ashpitel, "Treatise on Architecture," 1867

It’s not that they weren’t able to conceive
of such a thing, that neither the round
keystone of sun supporting the noon sky
nor the philtrum’s wedge carved into the apex
of marble lips that carried so much weight
of expression never suggested the form.
Instead, it was just the difference
between desire and necessity
that guides even civilizations,
between the impulses of inertia
and inspiration -- the bracing, time
and scaffolding required to stay with you,
for example, or leaving an enduring
“we” as just a theoretical construct.


Quartering Downstream

The wind that nods the shocks of cotton grass
lavishes us in forgetfulness.
Noon sun that ponders over alder leaves
fashions a honeyed absence beneath,
dappling us inside an easy shade.

The pock and ripple that carve the flowing jade
from within, and the following urgence
trembling from leader to rod tip,
from sinew then deep into our marrow
affirms the illusion that another,
separate life might ply this same stream.


Kevin Casey is the author of 'And Waking...' (Bottom Dog Press, 2016), and the chapbooks “The wind considers everything” (Flutter Press) and “For the Sake of the Sun” (Red Dashboard). His poems have appeared recently or are forthcoming in Chiron Review, Rust+Moth, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and Ted Kooser's syndicated newspaper column, 'American Life in Poetry.' For more, visit
This is Casey's first appearance in Offcourse.

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