ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Francis Blessington

 Deep in the Madding Crowd

A lone striker rants in the Stop-and-Shop
parking lot in front of the automated doors,
where Friday afternoon shoppers enter
swiftly and slip out deftly.

No!—I'm forced to hear
a grander zany than I imagined.
He's orating, exactly, Gray's "Elegy."
Some cadences arrest the few and
they smile, reverently as if hearing
something familiar from afar.

I, too, want to crow it,
flex with grace notes,
recall history's blood,
commend the shopping,
and the stopping.


Ice Talk

The ice is talking in muffled barks,
like Canada geese frustrated
at not discovering open water.

Now a tattatatat opens fire
on the long-gone grouse.
Deep fissures calve
great cubes like quarried marble,
shifting above hot plates below.

A fault runs its course
where dead horses and workers
cut and sold pleasure ice,
till Hell Mouth gulped,
their voices moaning still.



My daughter has taken the cat
to her grandmother's grave,
like the companion of a saint
who died too soon.

They walk in an unknown
city of stones, where she believes
the cat perceives a presence,
as she does. She is in harness, too,
like the cat, to short memory

that ignores the hawk above her head
squawking and wheeling,
where the foxes were expelled by coyotes,
the burrow still visible,
and the name lives in stone
as she pronounces each letter.


Blessinton's latest book of poems, Poems from Underground, was published by Deerbrook Editions in 2017. He has published two other books of poems. Wolf Howl and Lantskip as well as Paradise Lost: Ideal and Tragic EpicParadise Lost and the Classical Epic, verse translations of Euripides' The Bacchae, Trojan Women, Helen, and Hecuba, and Aristophanes' The Frogs, also a novel, The Last Witch of Dogtown.

His poems have appeared in Appalachia, Arion, Cumberland Poetry Review, The Dalhousie Review, Denver Quarterly, The Florida Review, Harvard Magazine, Light, Literary Imagination, New Letters, Offcourse, The Sewanee Review, Southern Humanities Review, Southern Poetry Review, The Southern Review, Yankee, and in many other journals.

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