ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Stuart Friebert


Seventy-some years ago, working
the register at my dad's Grocery & Meats,

Shorty came in for rutabagas, bought us out
if we were down to half a dozen. If no one

else was in line, with a rusty penknife he'd
cut what looked like initials in each one to

my teenage brain, "s.a.d." Wish I hadn't
taken it upon myself to ask, especially

when he shot back, "If you ever call me
'Shorty' again… See this knife, kid?" I began

hyperventilating more than usual, dad
came running from his butcher's block,

and the last thing I saw was his bloody
apron, and the last thing I heard was

him apologizing: "Mr. Dendehoek, my boy
better remember never to call you anything

but Sir!" We never saw Mr. Dendehoek again,
nor did dad ever mention the moment again.



On the curve of the road to Kipton
a woman's bending over to check
the strap of her sandal. If you saw

her climb out of her husband's car
a few miles back you'd know she's
a mature human, likes hiking alone.

In short, as the old saying goes about
the toad under the bridge, nothing bad
should come her way. When you drive

past her she's lighting a cigarette, smiles
your way, so you wait for her by the tracks
west of town. When she climbs into your car

it's as if you were lit on fire but have enough
mind to ask her to sit in back. You lean way
down over the wheel, pull spoke after spoke off.


Stuart Friebert has recently published Decanting: Selected & New Poems (Lost Horse Press/2017) and First & Last Words: Memoir & Stories (Pinyon Publishing/2017), and Lost Horse will soon publish VOTIVES: Selected Poems of Kuno Raeber (with Christiana Wyrwa), his third volume of Raeber translations. His work has appeared frequently in Offcourse.

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