ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Louis Phillips

"The awakening of sexual feeling in a hedgehog is
a poetic subject possibly not yet covered."

                            Kenneth Koch. "Mr. Olivetti Speaks"

Hey, boyo, furze-pig,
Think of me kindly,
Because I may know something
About the sex lives of hedgehogs
(tho my wife will tell you
I know very little
About the sex lives of humans.
Best you pay her no attention)
Still I believe I  know 
About the awakening
Of sexual feelings, etc.
& to be honest,
I have, thank you BBC,
Actually watched hedgehogs mate
(As the old joke says, carefully).
I confess: I am a Nature Special voyeur.

Hey, boyo, hedgepig,
Yes I am talking to you,
As you squeal & snuffle
Rolling  yourself
Croquet-like into a spikey ball
Alarmed & then alarming
Smaller species
With your midnight courtings.
2 months later or so,
Hedgerows & gardens
Will be cluttered
With your progeny,
The  late night air
Awash with suspense:
When shall your teen-agers
Sexually awaken?

Mr. Don Juan Hedgehog,
Remember my King Lear?
I dropped it in the garden,
The Pelican Paperback
Which you or your mate-to-be
Shredded so accurately?
The outdoors Shakespearean King,
A bit like you,
Bedecked with weeds, cries:
"The wren goes to it, and the small gilded fly
Does lecher in my sight.
Let copulation thrive."
Yes, my sex-mad friend,
May the sharp spikes
of desire pierce
Your noontime sleep.

Ah!, yes, my Figaro urchin.
What romance are you urgin'
On that fertile female
Vamping in the hedgerow?
I imagine under the leaves
A kettledrum of nocturnal
Well-orchestrated matings
Eons in the making.
I turn away
Because you deserve privacy,
But remember
Long ago in another state.
I too suffered pangs
Of love & desire.
Thus, I leave you
To your awakening:

May copulation thrive.



Let's settle in to see what happens.
The imagination is a mountain.
We climb it everyday or
We despair of ever climbing again.

It is frightening how we disconnect
From ourselves,
Wandering landscapes
Not of our own making,

Nor even of our own choosing.
What falls to earth
Is not always an object
That gives off light,

 But even when the Furies
Are upon me,
The Strangeness of Life
Holds my attention

With its ins  & outs,
Its angels & monsters,
Whirlpools & planets
On the head of a pin,

But, of course, we know
Not all poems are written.



"Some questions  are much more powerful than the answers."

                                  SAM SHEPARD

Why are some questions more powerful than the answers?
How does courage? & where?
Who mocks the When?
Where do persons possess the How?
Why disenfranchise the Where?
Push the Sun into another planet?



Nobody wants to ride that train.
Speeds up to 500 miles an hour,
Scenery nothing but a blur,
Entire landscapes in ruin.

Passengers hide behind newspapers,
Computer screens & cell phones.
Once in awhile a conductor appears
To collect tickets, announce towns

Whose names are unpronounceable.
Every so often, we take a curve
Too fast, and cars  rattle & swerve,
& the train jumps the tracks,

Topples over into rubble,
A catastrophe acceptable
To most of the passengers.
Only a few were comfortable

Knowing where we were heading.


Louis Phillips' most recent books are THE PLEASURE OF HIS COMPANY: OFF-BEAT SHAKESPEARE and a collection of humorous essays about bringing up children — HOW TO RAISE CHILDREN IN YOUR OWN HOME FOR FUN AND PROFIT. Both are published by WORLD  AUDIENCE and are available from Amazon.
Louis Phillips is a frequent contributor to Offcourse.

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