ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Richard Weaver

Baby on Board

is bored. Bored with his board travel games, bored with the red plastic
steering wheel attached to his rear car-seat, the same wheel that never turns
the way he wants the car to turn, and bored with the dioramic landscape
that pulls past. Like Berryman's Henry, Baby on Board is heavy bored.
How comes such a boredom to one so young and impressionable,
whose anterior fontanelle have yet to close? A good question,
but HIPPA inappropriate.

Baby on Board finds solace in listening to the Fifties on 5, the first decade
of Rock 'n Roll. Precociously he fills and refills his diapers to teenage angst,
thrilling to Be Bop, drifting off with the Drifters. Mack the Knife is a personal
favorite when scarlet billows begin to spread. His language skills may be
only developing but he knows blood when he hears it even if synonymously.

When paused at a traffic light, Baby on Board sees a pack of dogs gathered
in formation around a rusting but still red fire hydrant, each taking a turn
at their favorite piss-stop. Each careful to mark a different spot, to make sure
the red post is properly bathed with yellow rain. They have been at it for years
and have made noteworthy progress. Already there is seepage at the base.
Soon enough their efforts will be rewarded when the weakened metal yields
as it must to water's irresistible pressure, and forces itself upon the unsuspecting
tourists waiting for the last bus.

Baby on Board suppresses a giggle, knowing that in comedy, timing is everything.


This thought of mine

curves away even as I think it, going in no direction,
except away from wherever it came. I am neither its mother
nor father. Or sperm or egg donor. I am a vessel

of flesh, able to articulate, but unable to know
how I know. That thought of mine curved away
has gone elsewhere to roost, to brood or breed, to bother

or bewilder. It no doubt hangs upside down by its claws,
muttering in Esperanto about its diminished state,
the disrespect shown it by me, and others whose heads

harbored it briefly, for a second perhaps, and for whom
its exodus provided a momentary distraction, a partial
rendering of the satisfaction of blessed relief.


Like the rain-soaked rat he is, scrabbling

up a downspout to the gutter above,
and there to peer with hyper-sensitive nostrils
and militant eyes at any and all below,
Ramble Rat has ascended to his heaven, a world
above the slime below. He chitters there, content
in the twilight, at home with leaf mold, airiness,
and decay. His heaven on earth. His window
of the world. He prefers to find whatever
can be easily found, and hunts if he has no other
choice of insects or small, slower, injured animals.
Rambling Rat avoids landfills and garbage cans.
He has his standards which are inviolate.
He hoards, if necessary, but admits rarely
remembering what is hidden or where. Sampling
is his cautious preference. One nibble is unlikely
to kill. But Rambler Rat draws the line
and turns up his nose at coprophagy. Others
may well indulge in their own feces, claiming
beneficial nutrients and even a Vitamin K boost.
But who are they kidding! How gauche and classless.


The author lives in Baltimore where he volunteers with the Maryland Book Bank, CityLit, the Baltimore Book Festival, acts as the Archivist-at-large for a Jesuit college, and is the poet-in-residence at the James Joyce Irish Pub. Recent pubs: Free State, Mad Swirl, Spank the carp, Triggerfish, and Magnolia Review. He is the author of "The Stars Undone" (Duende Press, 1992). Five poems from his Islander MS became the libretto for a symphony, Of Sea and Stars (2005), performed 4 times to date.

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