ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Tim Suermondt



                 We must remember that the world
                 is also meek and kind.
                                      —Paul Tillich

When I walked out of the wings to the podium
I realized I wasn't wearing a tuxedo.
My wife, sitting in the first row, held her hand
over her eyes, looked down and shook her head.

My Guardian Angel looked up and said: "Why
is it always me?" I even saw my mother and father,
both so young again, saying "We did the best we
could." I gathered myself rather heroically and gave

my speech, one that the audience not only applauded
but did so happily standing on their feet.
The pinkest cherubs imaginable flew above
us all, dropping many colored wraps of candies.

I took advantage of the bombardment and slipped away,
through the doors, into the night with its austere
Swedish lights displaying its own take on thanksgiving
and awe—it was such a night. I bowed my head,

slightly and heard footsteps, my wife calling out "Honey,
I don't care about the tuxedo." Oh I knew that. I knew that.



My little grief—still grief for all that—takes
me to the river where I'm greeted on either bank
by women whose urge to dance with me
is overwhelming and dance with me they do,
despite my feet stumblebum and hopeless as they are.
"Such a beautiful dancer" they all tell me
and the night itself smiles with compassionate delight,
easing me into the early morning and into the café—
a young woman telling a young man at the next table
"You're such a beautiful dancer" setting herself up
for another kiss. I stir my coffee, saying nothing,
but moving my feet under my table ever so coolly,
grateful, after all, for every step I will dare to butcher.


DUBLIN, 2017

           The little white clouds
           are racing in the sky.
                    —Oscar Wilde

And some have made a detour
into the pub, hovering around
arresting pictures of the Easter uprising
before disappearing with a military precision
through the wood-beamed ceiling.
I might be the only one who noticed,
the other patrons cheering on their soccer
club, a sea of blue team jerseys
awash in the reflections in the rows of mirrors.
I came for the beer and the stew,
after a full day of hunting down the haunts
of poets, rebels or not—God bless them all.

I can't help but think of my father
who so loved most things Irish he named
my younger brothers John, Michael, Brian—
my father born at the end of 'The War
To End All Wars' but who still had the chance
to volunteer for two more. He'd like
the beer and the stew, maybe even confide,
in a low voice, that he likes poetry—then
perking up when asking me how much
I put on the blue team—I wish I had.
And if later I see him racing over the Liffey
I'll know I'm relatively sober and know
he'll hear me when I call out his name--
how long it seems since he joined the little
white clouds, eternal now too, I suppose—
God bless them all.


Tim Suermondt is the author of four full-length collections of poems: Trying To Help The Elephant Man Dance (The Backwaters Press, 2007), Just Beautiful (New York Quarterly Books, 2010), Election Night And The Five Satins (Glass Lyre Press, 2016) and The World Doesn't Know You, published by Pinyon Publishing in late 2017. His fifth book Josephine Baker Swimming Pool will be released in 2018 by MadHat Press. He has poems published in Poetry, The Georgia Review, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Blackbird, Bellevue Literary Review, North Dakota Quarterly, december magazine, Plume Poetry Journal, Poetry East and Stand Magazine (England), among others. He is a book reviewer for Cervena Barva Press and a poetry reviewer for Bellevue Literary Review. He lives in Cambridge (MA) with his wife, the poet Pui Ying Wong.

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