ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Three Poems by Lou Gallo


for Claire

As I lay in the Trauma Ward
for six broken ribs
it was my daughter Claire
who made sure I executed
the deep breathing sessions
upon every commercial break
during normal tv programming—
as instructed by the doctors.
She also brought for me
a goofy rubber crab I had once
found in a Myrtle Beach gift shop
and which she keeps on her
bedside table.  I held that crab
tight in my hands and instantly
understood love.
On our most recent visit
to Winston-Salem I spotted it
again on one of her shelves
and asked if I could have it.
She shook her head and smiled—
"No, Da, you gave it to me."
This too I understood.
How selfish of me to ask
for any more magic
than it had already bestowed.




We really don't believe that we
are one with our bodies.
Mind/body dualism lives on.
The minute we say "my brain"
or "my heart" we quarantine ourselves
from these organs.
MY is the key,

Who is the "my" that possesses?
Yeats said we are fastened
to dying animals.
So who is the "we"?
Soul? Spirit? Aura?
Something to live on perpetually,
the protein of religion.
Otherwise we're chunks of meat,
Spleen, liver, intestines, kidneys . . .
We don't want to be chunks of meat!
Too disgusting, fetid, ephemeral.
The vulture does not dine on me, however.
How does consciousness transcend
the butcher shop?
Why?  A big mistake—or maybe
evolution is taking us on a road trip
beyond hamburger.  Someday, surely.
But too late for us.  Goodbye.
Diogenes instructed his disciples
to toss his corpse into a ditch
to feed the dogs.
HIS body, not Diogenes.
Diogenes went elsewhere.
Bye Diogenes, bye everyone.
Lots of human slop seeping
into the planet.
What Walt wrote about in "This Compost."
But Walt dug it, said the soul was the body.
Bye Walt.




The poem faded as I read it,
the words evaporating in tiny
bubbles, froth, the way water
vaporizes on a hot stove.
I wanted to preserve what I could
so I wrapped what was left
of the poem in waxed paper
so it would not leak or stick
to anything.  I slide it onto
a shelf of the refrigerator
and set about my business.

When I returned, late, late
that evening, I was so hungry
I sought out leftovers,
found the poem, unwrapped it,
slapped on some yellow mustard,
paprika and curcumin power
and ate it.  Best poem
I ever ate.  But bitter, sour.
Next time I'll try cardamom,
sweet cream and nutmeg.

Fresh off the page is best of course
but digestion takes time.


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.
His work has appeared in Offcourse #69, Lou Gallo's poem

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