ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by J. R. Solonche


I’m giving my books to the library.
What else should I do with them?

Leave them on the shelves for my daughter to inherit?
What will she do with them?

Burn them?
Give them to the library?

Someday she will have to deal with empty shelves.
These shelves are big and heavy.

They will be burden enough for her.
No, I’m giving my books to the library.

The librarians are the book experts.
They will know which to keep, which to burn.



In the waiting room waiting my turn
in the dentist’s office, I am alternating
reading a fashion magazine
and looking out the window. Reading?
No, there’s nothing to read in the fashion
magazine. Looking? So I am alternating
looking at the pictures of the fashionable
in this month’s fashion magazine
and reading the venetian blinds horizontal
on the window, which teaches me a great deal
about the sky and the sky blue it has always been.



So one must wonder what
the philosophers who did not

call themselves that then called themselves.
Thinkers? Wonderers? Meaning-searchers? Truth-seekers?

My guess is the philosophers
who did not call themselves that

didn’t call themselves anything at all,
those wisdom lovers who loved their wisdom wild.



Soon it will be spring.
Do you know how strong spring is?
Do you know how strong it is to do what it does?
Of course you know.
You have seen spring before.
You have watched spring at work many times.
How it has to have the strength of a thousand winters
to wrestle winter to the ground,
then strangle winter with its bare hands,
then smother winter with whatever it finds at hand,
with snowdrops and crocus, to be certain,
then dig winter’s grave deep in the ground,
so deep in the ground that winter will not stir again
until next winter.
And it has only its bare hands, mind you, with which to do this.
Tell me, have you ever dug a hole with your bare hands?
I don’t mean a hole for a tulip.
I mean a hole big enough to bury winter in?
This is how strong spring has to be.
And spring does this all alone.
It gets no help, not from us.
No, not from us who merely stand around, cheering.


    J.R. Solonche has been publishing poetry in magazines and anthologies since the early 70s. He is author of Beautiful Day (Deerbrook Editions), Won’t Be Long (Deerbrook Editions), Heart’s Content (Five Oaks Press), Invisible (Five Oaks Press), The Black Birch (forthcoming from Aldrich Press/Kelsay Books), and coauthor of Peach Girl: Poems for a Chinese Daughter (Grayson Books). His work has appeared frequently in Offcourse.

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