ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Robert S. King


Blind and Barefoot

He who cannot see is invisible,
except to the mirrors
of what might have been.
His shoes are empty,
his footprints missing,
though he remembers stepping
through a thousand deaths
to the next sunrise.
Now his arms reach out
through an unpaved path of darkness,
moving blindly in the heavy traffic
of himself.

The road's curved back remembers
the burdens of many.
A litter of glass and bones,
some his own, cuts each step
with history coming back.
His wounds both track and lead him.
Though all he knows for now is night,
his eyes widen to let in light.


70 Years Young

There are glad days when my memory
cannot get out of the playground,
when I'm on the dream swing giddy
with wind power soaring high.

There are cloudy days when I cannot
get out of the grave,
when shadows have no silver linings.

Let my laughter or silence tell you
what day it is.


Horse Trainer

Wild horses trot across the full moon
in step with their herd of shadows
and luminous swarm of dust.

I sewed my wild oats here
under an ancient half moon
where I settled into lamer dust.
Now I follow only with my eyes
the rhythmic clops of hooves
fading to the far side
that grazers and gazers never see,
unlike this stampede of spirits
that never circle back
to the gate that set them free.



The air between us
is glass, a see-through wall
with our fingerprints,
our oaths, our lasting touch
on the bleeding edge.

Our eyes, like our hearts,
are glass and magnify the cracks
growing in random lines
of snakes and rivers of tears.

We swore never to cross those lines,
only to shatter in our own places,
shatter but never break out,
shatter but never break through.


Lowering the Bucket

I cannot see the water
in this well too deep,
and my bucket leaks
on too short a rope.
The hole I dug to hold
the clearest pool leaks too,
a river alive beneath the desert,
the stream I might cup in my hands
flowing in and out, out of reach.

Even where light cannot go, I believe
the water sparkles, unclouded
by bodies turned to starlit dust,
moving in a liquid dream unpolluted.
If only I could keep my hands clean
and quench an ancient thirst;
if only I could reach that purity
beyond the end of my rope.


Robert S. King lives in Athens, GA, where he serves on the board of FutureCycle Press and edits Good Works Review. His poems have appeared in hundreds of magazines, including Atlanta Review, California Quarterly, Chariton Review, Hollins Critic, Kenyon Review, Main Street Rag, Midwest Quarterly, Negative Capability, Southern Poetry Review, and Spoon River Poetry Review. He has published eight poetry collections, most recently Diary of the Last Person on Earth (Sybaritic Press 2014) and Developing a Photograph of God (Glass Lyre Press, 2014). His personal website is

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