ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Andy Oram

Waiting out the rain

For the price of a coffee I sit
Watch the rain paint aurora across the view from the windows
Privileged to be dry privileged to have a few unappointed minutes
No power on my mobile device no book no newspaper except the local advertising rag

Silence in the mall sparse vehicles in the lot placid visitors elderly strollers
Few people today apparently needed jolts of new acquisitions in hand

Fogs over concrete with anticipation not sure which way to float
Dusky sparrows claim places on a light fixture or surveillance camera while planning their return to nature

With me
Sullen visitors run hands over polystyrene nothing to look at
Just cars pressing down the luminescent pavement
Resin table tops
Acrylic notices of salt-sodden specials

Why doesn't everybody have to get somewhere
What a place to find respite from exigence from scheduling from harriment
The barista stares across the linoleum through the glass door
The espresso machines beg for employment
Somewhere someone's clock digitally advances without noise to the next minute


Remembering the evening in the yard

We talked of my sister's marriage, so many years ago,
Here in the very yard where tonight we supped our tea and gazed
At the familiar forest behind the house.
We recalled the oak that had to be cut down thirty years ago,
Our good-bye to the rough pine swing on which so many children
From all over the neighborhood,
Flocking as soon as the snows had melted each Spring,
Kicked their heels and hooted in joy.
And we could almost hear again the family arguments, now so endearing,
That echoed over the hardwood floors year after year.

It was that time of the evening when an aurora caresses the earth,
A lowering of the sky after a misty day.
Occasionally a breeze would sweep high, suspended branches against each other.
Everyone would stop their chats and take in the rustling sound.

Our fingers jostled against each other,
Expelling the poppy seeds that stuck to us from our tiny nibbled cakes,
Just as we had done each time Grandmother served them at our innumerable summer parties.
Father stacked plates on his virile arms in the gathering darkness.

Then we raised our heads as mortar blasts went off on the other side of the hill.
Uncle said, "Ah, it is probably time to pack up the house.
The battalion will certainly destroy the town tomorrow."


Just remarking

Who invented punctuation?
Someone who could not tolerate
the ambiguous teeter between dictate and query
hanging in the air with an upward pitch and a small grin
or the pause that links two observations
putatively unrelated in space and time
someone insensitive to the streams of reminiscences we spontaneously mutter
with peripheral interjections a sigh perhaps a note of sarcasm concernĀ 
or the sudden pivots from topic to topic that unveil associations
within our guts
most of us hate punctuation
which is why we discard it the moment we can
or choose one noncommittal mark from the host presented by our keyboard
and use it incessantly like Dickinson
knowing that in the end it will be the whisper behind the text our audience remembers
or the pout we left on our face at the end of our assertion
or the twinkle that passed through our eyes
and not at all what we actually said.


Andy Oram is a writer and editor at O'Reilly Media, a highly respected book publisher and technology information provider. Andy currently specializes in open source and data analytics, but his editorial output has ranged from a legal guide covering intellectual property to a graphic novel about teenage hackers. Andy also writes often on health IT, on policy issues related to the Internet, and on trends affecting technical innovation and its effects on society. Print publications where his work has appeared include The Economist, Communications of the ACM, Copyright World, the Journal of Information Technology & Politics, Vanguardia Dossier, and Internet Law and Business. Andy participates in the Association for Computing Machinery's policy organization, USTPC. He also writes for various web sites about health IT and about issues in computing and policy, and has published short stories and poetry.

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