ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Three Prose Poems by Gerry LaFemina


Tossed aside the way it is, it could be a discarded map to an unknown country, and aren't we the immigrant type–curious, hungry, meek, entrepreneurial.

Don't confuse it with the cloth Veronica used to wipe Christ's face, only to find his pained features stained in the fabric. No, this towel's a bit soiled, perhaps, but plain and white, threadbare and dull.

It could have the dress-down dress, the sarong, the toga, the kilt. 

Damp and left on the floor, with its scent of you: the dropped flag of surrender, of that tiny kingdom we once called home.



Utilitarianism—A Love Story

When she called me a cad, there was little I could argue. I'd come to learn by then (as most men do) to agree, for she was usually right. When called a rake, though, I understood a simple truth and knew what I might do. I went out, got red and golden maple leaves tattooed around my ankles and feet, a few twigs stuck among them for good measure. See, I said, my voice cool as November, I'm no longer so useless. That night she hung me up on the peg board in the garage. Sure, I was a tool, but she knew how to handle me.



Theory of Special Relativity

The grandfather clock towers above the watches, as if reading them a story. It begins Once upon a time... The watch faces seem alive, the way light glints off their glass, their small hands outstretched. Everything has come to a standstill but the light through the window and the dust. There is nothing to be alarmed about. This story has history; it's been told for generations.

Outside people hurry past. Church bells count the quarters, one of the few reminders of another era, back when miners sat at the local diner after clocking out.

You know the spiel, no one can predict this future, and the past is dismantled daily. Time was there used to be a glockenspiel in the town square. At noon and six the bells would chime and from the clock a young master and miss would go through their pantomime. They'd meet in the middle. He'd bow, she'd bow, then they'd kiss.

It didn't matter how many times they'd seen this little show, people still would stop. Watch.


Gerry LaFemina's numerous collections of poetry include The Parakeets of BrooklynVanishing Horizon, and Little Heretic. His collection of essays on poets and prosody, Palpable Magic, came out in 2015 from Stephen F Austin University Press and his textbook, Composing Poetry: A Guide to Writing Poems and Thinking Lyrically was recently released from Kendall Hunt. A new book of poems, The Story of Ash, is forthcoming this year. He teaches at Frostburg State University and as a mentor in the MFA Program at Carlow University.
His work "A Long Prose Poem in Sections About Big Foot" appeared in Offcourse #52, March 2013,

Return to Offcourse Index.