ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Louis Gallo


once in Ur

Once in Ur I met a girl who sold
kumquats from a basket strapped
to her mule—oh, it was a frightful season
then, no rain for months, her lips
were cracked, we all swatted away
the flies and blowing sand and
children danced for a storm.
I, a merchant, in Ur for the business
and perhaps on a secret diplomatic
mission for my king in Phrygia,
I was used to the wenches and
had my share, though weary now
of constant disarray.  But
I fell in love with the girl in Ur—
how bright her avocado eyes,
how wheaty the amber hair the tips
of which draped and lightly touched
her slender shoulders.
You doubt love at first sight
and pass it off as lust?  Well,
think what you may—but this I know:
the girl from Ur smiled at me
and lured me in and thereupon
we eloped in all of Asia Minor.

I see your cup is empty, my friend,
so allow me to pour you more of this
legendary Abyssinian fig and date wine,
a favorite of Xerxes the Great.
When you love a woman—and I know
you say you love Naxinia, or think you do—
when you love a woman you want her
to want to bear your child; you want
to get her with child;  because it’s
the closest you can ever conjoin with her,
when two become one, then three.
You and Naxinia remain barren, true?
So let this be my testament thereupon:
Eros looks backward from the future,
incarnates past ecstasy in such fruit.



all roads

don’t lead to Rome no more
they lead to my pastry shack
in Pascagoula
where me and Dolly, my cookie,
blend our batter

don’t come for your bonbons,
jelly rolls, brioche, apple pies
right when we’re baking
we’ll set our gators on you
and maybe the hyena

but, ah, when the yeast rises
and the oven’s blazing
you can smell sweet dough
ah throughout Mississippi

so take heed and order
more hot cross buns
at Easter when Dolly
naked under that sackcloth
sprinkles ashes in the sugar




some days the floater
in my left eyeball
scurries across
the mise en scene
like a tiny, frenzied
sometimes it’s
a graceful bird
swooping left to right
and sometimes
a black hole,
a singularity

I know it’s merely
myopic pressure,
a bit of retina
a grace note
before the curtain
draws to the
drone of a bassoon

it once worried me
now I worry it


Author Louis Gallo’s work has appeared or will shortly appear in Southern Literary Review, Fiction Fix, Glimmer Train, Hollins Critic,, Rattle, Southern Quarterly, Litro, New Orleans Review, Xavier Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Missouri Review, Mississippi Review, Texas Review, Baltimore Review, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, The Ledge, storySouth,  Houston Literary Review, Tampa Review, Raving Dove, The Journal (Ohio), Greensboro Review,and many others.  Chapbooks include The Truth Change, The Abomination of Fascination, Status Updates and The Ten Most Important Questions. He is the founding editor of the now defunct journals, The Barataria Review and Books:  A New Orleans Review.  He teaches at Radford University in Radford, Virginia.

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