ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Alan Catlin, derived from photographs by the German photographer August Sander


Professional Middle-class Couple 1927

Their home is where dust
goes to die. Is as immaculate
as a hospital ward,

as antiseptic as an operating
theater.  All the collectible
porcelain and Hummel figures
they own are lodged behind
polished glass cabinet doors
never opened.

Even when special company comes.

The matched love seats,
high backed chairs, have hand-
sewn antimacassar, ornamental
drapery to repel hair pomade.

Marital bed sheets are starched
and ironed. Hold a press better
than a tailored suit. No distressing
fluids allowed.

He keeps a woman in town
for men's night out.  After schnapps
and beer, low stakes card games
with rank cigars smoking,
he explores uncharted regions
even the most dedicated missionaries
could never imagine.


Skilled Tradesman and His Wife  1923

Avuncular is the first word that
comes to mind.  Everyone's favorite
uncle with his silent, humorless wife.

He always has small coins
and sweets for the children.
Is garrulous and always has
important news for the parents.

The wife has perfected the art
of embroidery: takes notes and
stitches them into unfathomable
patterns using codes of her own
devising.  A dark Art that proves
invaluable in times of war.


Alan Catlin most recent chapbooks are Blue Velvet, winner of 2017 Slipstream Chapbook Contest, and Hollyweird, by Night Ballet Press.  A full-length book, Wild Beauty, will be published by Future Cycle Press.

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