ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Stuart Friebert

The Hapsburg Lip

Mandibular prognathism, that is,
the large lower jaw protruding so

teeth no longer align, thanks to
six centuries of incest in royals.

In the lowest circle, Spain's last
Hapsburg, Charles II, speechless till

four, couldn't walk till eight, tongue
so massive he could hardly chew; you

couldn't understand his slightest
command, hence the end of his line.

My father was worried about my lip,
as in "You've got some lip, Mr. Know-

it-all, can't tell you anything. I'd pray
for you if I were the praying kind, but

maybe Mother will rescue you some
more. Gagging on him calling her that,

early on I imagined I'd been delivered
by a crazy stork to the wrong address.


Let's See You

conduct anything, much less Beethoven's Fifth,
with your feet while standing on your head, as

Yehudi Menuhin once did, who also said his best
violin teacher was his yoga instructor. Well, if you

can't do that, how about at least yielding to some
passion so fully we'd call you cursed? Meanwhile,

come lie down; put your arms around me; tighter!
Let's not wake up till we're in adjoining rocking

chairs on the nursing home porch, our eyelashes
needing trimming, our foreheads wrinkled from so

much worry about disasters real and imaginary,
fumbling with our shawls, lifting a hand now &

then to draw a nurse, who hurries to our side,
whereupon we cry, beg her pardon. We were just…

She wheels us back into the sitting room, gets
the phonograph turning. It's Menuhin playing

our favorite Bach partita, which we conduct with
fingers so splayed they resemble dragon claws,

which Thank The One Above contract enough at
supper so we can spoon each other some soupie.


Sea Squirt

At first, it resembles a tadpole with a tail,
whose eyes and nervous system ferry it
around, only later to root to the seabed,
forever after to feed on plankton floating
by, its eyes and nerves assimilating back
into its body, sort of how my life has gone.



Did you know water molecules
assume a little V shape, the lone
oxygen atom connected to two
hydrogens. All that's missing is
Mickey's smile between his ears.


 Stuart Friebert published A  DOUBLE LIFE the fall of 2019 (Pinyon Publishing); and will shortly  publish SHADOW of SHADOWS: Selected Poems of Ute von Funcke (Black Mountain Press). Other new work in or forthcoming in The Literary Review, Plume, Great River Review et al.

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