ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by J.R. Solonche


Jim's brother died last week.
We went to the funeral home
to pick up the ashes. "Why
is it called a funeral home?"
I said. "Is it the home of fuckin
funerals?" "Could be. Maybe
it's more like our home away
from home," Jim said. "It's heavy,"
said the funeral director handing
Jim a shopping bag with the urn
with the ashes with his brother
without a home. "He ain't heavy,"
Jim said. "He's my brother."
The funeral director didn't laugh.
"Animals don't go to funeral homes
when they die," I said. "Right,"
Jim said. "The whole fuckin earth
is their home." "So what are
you going to do with Mike's ashes?"
I said. "Spill them somewhere nice,"
Jim said. "Around here? I thought
he didn't come from around here,"
I said. "He didn't. Maybe I should send
it up to his wife in New Hampshire.
She ought to decide what to do," Jim said.
"I guess so," I said. "But you have
the ashes. Don't you think you ought
to decide what to do with them?"
"Maybe. After all, I knew him longer
than his wife did," Jim said. "Let's go
find some place nice." "That place on
the Delaware?" I said. "Yeah, Jim said.
"Where we saw the three girls in the raft
take off their tops and wave at us?" I said.
"Yeah, that's the one," Jim said. "That place."



Awake from a nap in the back,
I blink.

I see the sun hanging upside down from the clouds.
I blink.

I see a goldfinch hanging upside down from the birdfeeder.
I blink

I see a foolish old poet hanging upside down from the world.
I blink.

I blink.
I blink.



I found a pencil on the road.
It looked like it had been whittled
to expose the lead, not sharpened
with a sharpener. Used for about
two inches of writing -- what?
math homework?  doodles? poems?  
The eraser was rubbed down to gone,
so it must have been poems. I took
it home, wrote this with it, broke it
in half, and threw it out.



Did Moses' Midianite wife,
Zipporah, really use all

this perfume, all this lip liner,
all this eye shadow,

all this eye liner,
all this lash lengthener,

all this body lotion,
all this face powder,

so much all this that if
I weren't already seventy-two

and thereby have no reason to,
I swear I'd swear off sex?


J.R.Solonche photo

J.R. Solonche is the 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),  If You Should See Me Walking on the Road (forthcoming in July 2019 from Kelsay Books), and coauthor of Peach Girl: Poems for a Chinese Daughter (Grayson Books). He lives in the Hudson Valley.

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