ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by J.R. Solonche

Driving by a Group of Cows in the Rain

Cows under an oak tree.

Suddenly, I feel compelled to stop,
jump out and cover them.

I want to throw my linen jacket over one.
I want to cut a branch for another.

I want to take the tarp off the tractor for a third.
I want to nail those old boards together for three more.

What am I thinking?
What things, what things we weep over.


I Envy People Who Know All The Names

I envy people who know all the names of trees
and those who know all the names of insects.
Or all the names of flowers.
Or dinosaurs.
Or seashells.

I once wanted to study geology, not for the sake
of knowing geology, but so I could know
all the names of rocks,
and of rock-forming processes,
and of rock-eroding processes.

For the same reason, I once memorized
the names of all of Napoleon's twenty-six marshals,
which I have since forgotten,
except for Bernadotte, and Murat, and Ney.


I Wrote on the Board the Word Success

I wrote on the board the word SUCCESS.
What does this word mean? I asked.
I pointed at one in the first row.
What does this word mean? I asked.
He made a face. It looked like a frown.
A big house, he answered. I pointed at
one in the last row. What does this word
mean? I asked. She did not hesitate.
A good job, she said. I pointed at one
in the middle of the class. What does
this word mean? I asked. He shrugged
and said, My own business. So it went.
A lot of money. Sports cars.  Rich lawyer.
Rich CPA. Finally someone said, What 
does it mean to you, Mr. S.? I smiled,
for I was prepared for this. Yet before
I could say, To be a better than average
person, then die without being a bother,
I blurted out, To win the Pulitzer Prize
for Poetry, and I dismissed the class.


Professor Emeritus of English at SUNY Orange, J.R. Solonche has been publishing poems in magazines and anthologies (more than 400) since the early 70s. He is author of Beautiful Day (Deerbrook Editions), Won't Be Long (Deerbrook Editions), Heart's Content (chapbook from Five Oaks Press), Invisible (nominated for the Pulitzer Prize by Five Oaks Press), The Black Birch (Kelsay Books), I, Emily Dickinson & Other Found Poems (Deerbrook Editions), In Short Order (Kelsay Books), Tomorrow, Today & Yesterday (Deerbrook Editions), and coauthor of Peach Girl: Poems for a Chinese Daughter (Grayson Books). He lives in the Hudson Valley.

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