ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Claire Scott

Hammer and Nails

Does he know it can’t last
as he hammers another two by four
into our burning house
his mouth full of long silver nails
can he see the soot, smell the smoke

What if he looked, really looked
at his wife’s assortment of pills
Xanax, Percoset, Ambien
empty bottles of scotch
barely hidden behind the sofa
his wife stuporous in bed
dreaming of tall buildings
and sharp knives
could he bear it
easier to hammer nails
high up on a ladder

But father, we burned too
tongues tasting of ash
our faces blackened, hair singed
our charcoal cries unheard



I tell you it was bloody hot in that kitchen
with its open fires and great pots
of bean stew steaming, unleavened bread
baking over hot coals, the pungent smell of roasting lamb
sweat dripped between my breasts, my arms exhausted
from kneading and chopping and mixing and stirring
my dress dusted in flour
they said thirteen for supper that night
an unlucky number I whispered in my sleeve
later I poured wine and passed bread
put out more olives and dates
but there is no sign of me in the famous painting
only a bit player, a bitter footnote
sometimes I look again to be sure, maybe
I missed it on the lower left, on hands and knees
sweeping up the crumbs
no, not even there


Author Claire Scott is an award winning poet who has received multiple Pushcart Prize nominations. Her work has been accepted by the Atlanta Review, Bellevue Literary Review, New Ohio Review, Enizagam and Healing Muse among others. Claire is the author of Waiting to be Called and  Until I Couldn’t. She is the co-author of Unfolding in Light: A Sisters’ Journey in Photography and Poetry.  

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