ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Mark DuCharme

Vagrant Noon

        “The present is the form of all life.” —Godard, Alphaville


You decide not to let it go, then you do;
The past is full of minivans.

Go down then, to the sea,
Ye who are fragile & clumsy

’Til the day no wretched songs
Shall soothe your feet. On that day, wipe

That grimace off your cheek.
Innocence isn’t spring-loaded,

You know. Try not to part
With love’s perfect example. The seasons

Hold sway over the
Language of the bees;

The slope
Only goes south

When the moon isn’t viable
Anymore, but intrinsic to flowers

& Moves keenly through the shapes
Of apples & dead bees

Until June is no more wicked
Than vagrant noon in you.



Distance harbors occult notation
Culled from windows no one leaves

When there is a door to give part-way
That moves with a singular

Ease— where past & present seem
To bleed into one another

& Our odd ways of knowing & thinking
About them, as we move toward

Other days—
Toward the moon or its paramour, who flutters

& Shimmers briefly in silvered light—
Not a dry light of autumnal decay

But a glow that kisses the available strangeness
With a pleasant ease.

We are forced in this way to leave our normal
Lives & the accumulations they

To be ourselves, perhaps dishonestly
While also being enjambed with a kind of furtive

Exaltation, like something
Folded into dream

That we may move away from now, in doubt
At the very revelation

Of some dystopian unrest
We’d already come to believe.


Some Prior Vocals

What are you, just a list of clouds
In panic at the anterior
Or in another country
        Yet to be denuded?

We made the salad with chard, crushed
Lentils, sprigs of amethyst &
Thistle. One crisis leads
        To another, I

Know— or to the panderings
Of metered readers
Holidays in the Hinterlands
        Crushed velvet toupees.

Look here, you defrocked
Night minister, hovering
On a bender— baby, don’t get
        Hooked on my

Anniversary Sinatra cover band
If you meet your maître
D’ in a pompadour downsized
        By reckless infected greeting card carriers

Who sure know how to whistle.
But the season’s over, & we never flew
To the Serengeti for a photo-
        Op with well-known hot-tubbers.

Sometimes a rutabaga
Is just a word. Let me in, Jim—
I’ve got something to spill on you.
        Tidy as France is

When pushed over to one side. If you bother
The picnickers, they just might burst
Or fill you with terrible pop song ideas
        In the cool, cool, cool of the day

Or something else that’s gone astray.
Chalk it up to a dozen rainy Sundays
& A vital impulse to not squander
        What the dead now leave behind.


Mark DuCharme is the author of We, the Monstrous: Script for an Unrealizable Film, Counter Fluencies 1-20, The Unfinished: Books I-VI, Answer, The Sensory Cabinet and other works. His poetry has appeared widely in such venues as BlazeVOX, Caliban Online, Colorado Review, Eratio, First Intensity, New American Writing, Noon, Otoliths, Shiny, Talisman, Unlikely Stories, Word/ for Word, and “Poetics for the More-Than-Human World,” a special issue of Dispatches from the Poetry Wars. A recipient of the Neodata Endowment in Literature and the Gertrude Stein Award in Innovative American Poetry, he lives in Boulder, Colorado.

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