ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Three Poems by Ken Craft

A False Spring

After the long freeze,
winter cracks.
January rain eases
into its own fissures.

Water rakes
the west side's
cedar shakes and,
after hesitation,
the gutter ice breaks,
releasing its birth flow
through downspouts:
the tin-thrum
of young tongues.

You never truly know
till you hear winter rain
from a newborn year's sky.


The Solipsist's Prayer

Fire, the white coat scientists
will surmise. Detonations, radiation,
cloud totems rising with slow
impunity toward sleeping gods.

Or much gentler than that.
Secret drills while dozing,
only half hearing
the redwing blackbirds' call
from wetlands outside my window
while the west wind French kisses
screens after rain, while the corner of the
bed sheet flips over my face.

Blackbirds. Scarlet epaulets.
The patois of March.
Their checks and trills, lonely and liquid
in their blackbird way, know the reason
this doctor's hand feels soft and warm
closing my eyes. The softness
showing his disdain for manual labor.
The warmth proving his body's
ignorance of just how close the end
has come.

The last thing I will hear after such strange
intimacy is the nurse's question: "Dead?"
And the last thing I'll realize is the
unexpected answer: You all are, the moment
March detonates and buries my wonder
in stubborn and steel, obscuring what once
were earnest pupils on a world without end.


Old Dog Poem

Such a sweetness
in old dogs,

the way elbows
hard-knock the floor

as they lie heavily into
groans and half-heartedly

scratch at sevens
stuck behind the years.

Getting close to the eyes
to glean old-dog thoughts,

you see two marble fogs,
orbed reflections

of a kitchen window
dimming behind you.

Her puppy world at large.
Familiar, yet far.


Ken Craft 's poems have appeared in The Writer's Almanac, Verse Daily, Plainsong, Gray's Sporting Journal, The MacGuffin, Off the Coast, Spillway, Slant, and numerous other journals and e-zines. He is the author of two collections of poetry, Lost Sherpa of Happiness (Kelsay Books, 2017) and The Indifferent World (Future Cycle Press, 2016). You can visit him at

Return to Offcourse Index.