ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Robert Lietz



Maybe you set up shop, or put the first line down
with a fervor once reserved for currency, but,
just as the tin man asked, how could you extend such enterprise,
a moment abstracted and recovered, knowing
no more than the crisp air, than this music to match, gesture
for gesture, that steeped tea substituted for old measures,
so that the tin man could not seem livelier, startling that tear-totaler
and his companions in their tracks, at the edge and off,
out of the most expensive lighting and denials, avoiding the camera
as he might, when his costly smokes take precedent. 
Consider, then, this heady theater, or, haunting still, these stage-boards
at The Vanguard or Folk City, downstairs at the A-Go-Go,
with Tommy Flanders and The Project, getting my attention yet,
or think of The Orioles, in route to Maryland from Akron,
to their own changed homes in Baltimore, remembering the shops,
the unsustainable policies, and economies as issues
a tanned man's all the more indifferent to.  Here's the day with its
sheep's teeth.  And here's the tan man, winter-toned,
repeating his own name exiting, charged by his own amped rhetoric,
so that the lingo stands, and the summaries agreed to,
that the electorate applauds, induced by the rib-split anecdotes
no one should be surprised by, less like the truth
than tokens passed and re-submitted, pressed into the palms of these,
the northern-most of gurus.  You work out your week
in sentences, listening to know, and find for yourself the tin man,
turned, as he says, to this "damn brand new piano," as
moved as his patrons now by moods, by this jazz for real after all,
everywhere discoverable, and all the more necessity,
distinguished in its honesty and homage, outside an Alliance
sandwich shop or barber's, away in this yard
the mandevilla punctuates, coming to the end of its first year,
beside this spreading bush, where butterflies
and cousin colors flutter, affecting an ease in all of it,
even as these notes must, in the same light,
sensed suddenly, when the malaise breaks down,
and the probe-mugged recalcitrants
withdraw to their own circus, to
the crickets' mimicry.




     How long did it take me then, to get the plugs
and cap aligned,

     stalled on the Northway in the rain, with Albany ahead,
points west, and

     clear nights, like careers that came to matter, lyrics
to order or defend,

     when I brushed that fender, just, and felt the current throb,
inflecting the spirit with surprises,

     and leaving me stunned, soaked, guessing the sense of it,
commencing like a post-ironic

     turn on a short chapter, a brief on the season's history,
set straight, struck

     by the urge to simplify, to forgo the space between
and plagiarized accounts,

     the traumas once, shared, presuming the kitchen gurus,
the dare-devils, their

     smokey eyes and ears and the designs they snared
to marvel,

     or these ghost peppers say,     all the blaze

     consequence     a night like
     called for.




     It was raining for some time, before that stopped, until
the stars peeped in

     and hosts seemed all the more familiar, enjoying the darts
and sleights,

     the brotherly constellations, and that mid-August gyring, so
long as the fingers

     found their own ways back to fretboards or the ivories, as
breathing had its way

     with brass, with valves, or the chromatics, through volumes
by Louis Simpson once,

     or the war poems of James Dickey, while meteors dropped
around, and the last beers

     slipped from drowning in the coolers, the season cleared,
as we, enjoying the dark

     and colors spread across a thousand miles, played through
the hands as dealt,

     through how many versions, permutations, through
the certain smoke

     and powders of the world, whatever the chances
were, or

     the chances seemed to be     among
     house sharks. 


Author Robert Lietz says: "My poems have appeared in more than one hundred journals in the U.S. and Canada, in Sweden and U.K, including Agni Review, Antioch Review, Carolina Quarterly, The Colorado Review, Epoch, The Georgia Review, Mid-American Review, The Missouri Review, The North American Review, The Ontario Review, Poetry, and Shenandoah. Eight collections of poems have been published, including Running in Place (L’Epervier Press,) At Park and East Division ( L’Epervier Press,) The Lindbergh Half-Century (L’Epervier Press,) The Inheritance (Sandhills Press,) and Storm Service (Basfal Books). Basfal also published After Business in the West: New and Selected Poems. Besides the print publications poems have appeared in several webzines. A net search for "Robert Lietz poetry" will provide a representative selection. I have also completed several other print and hypertext (hypermedia) collections of poems for publication, including Character in the Works: Twentieth-Century Lives, West of Luna Pier, Spooking in the Ruins, Keeping Touch, and Eating Asiago & Drinking Beer. I spend a good deal of time taking, post-processing, and printing photographs I have been making for the past several years, exploring the relationship between the image-making and the poems I have made and am exploring."
See also Offcourse Issue #63,

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