ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Ruth Bavetta

Too Late

There's trouble in the world,
my mother said. Carbon monoxide
in the garage, gravel trucks below
the dam, dirty boys loitering
behind the Burger Palace.

She was sliding deeper
into dark. Phone off
the hook, gopher holes pocking
the yard, clocks stopped
at seven, three, eleven.

Broken branches against the eaves,
weeds taking over the paths,
plaques and tangles in her brain.

That Thursday morning, as she lay inert
on the couch with only the dog
to watch, was the day the household gods
led the rescue team to the DNR.
Do not, do not, do not resuscitate.

The driveway curves downhill,
the wine sours in the bottle.
Too late for the emergency room, too late
for the green-garbed nurse, too late
for order and explanation.
What's to become of us all?



Afternoon light
climbs the ladder of hills.
The sun is a pitcher spilling a slant of amber
across the sagging patio.

Eucalyptus trees
spread brittle branches toward the sky
and the shadow of a hawk
falls over the chaparral.

The world is a photograph
of places between places.
Everything will begin                         
and end without me.

After Things Began to Go Wrong

It's 90 degrees,
but he sits on the couch, reliving
the snows of Norway. This morning
he lost his checkbook, the checkbook
I soon must take away from him.

It's 90 degrees, and the dishwasher
is full of clean dishes. Time was he
took them out when they were still warm.
Now he thinks of snow and Norway
and I put away bowls that are cold.

It's 90 degrees and I can't persuade
him to take off his sweatshirt. 
While he sits and dreams
of Norway's cool blue,
sweat runs down his temples.

The dryer thumps and bumps.
He washed everything on hot
and now he think of Norway
while I shake out my ruined blouse,
his shrunken sweater.

This evening it's cooler.  I remind him
to take his pills, move close to him
in bed. He asks me what day it is, when
it was we moved so close to the sea.
I am the keeper of our shared history.

How to Make a Sock Puppet


                         for Annabelle

is out of bounds,
arms, stomach, breasts,
her once beautiful face,
her torn and bloody lips.
She will not come home late
from work, she will not
see any of her friends.
she will not spend
mornings in the studio,
He will be her only


Ruth Bavetta's poems have been published in Rattle, Nimrod, North American Review, Slant, Tar River Poetry, Spillway, Hanging Loose, Poetry East, and many others. She has published four books, and has work included in several anthologies. She writes at a messy desk with a view over the Pacific.
This is Bavetta's first appearance in Offcourse.

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