ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Claire Scott


Each day I take a sip or two
when you forget the word for oatmeal
or call our long time neighbor Mary
yesterday a heavyset police officer
brought you home and I wanted her to hold
me in her arms, but I simply thanked her,
shook her hand and took a sip or two
when you speak sharply to me, accusing
me of stealing your favorite sweater
I feel a flash of fear and take another sip

When the last light of lucidity
is lost in chronal haze and memories
are scoured from your mind
when I leave you at Grand Lake Gardens
in a small room with no space for the hundreds
of books you love or the shimmering watercolors
you have painted over our forty years
when there are no quiet suppers sharing
a grandson’s A in math, the Japanese beetles
on the roses, a mistake in the phone bill
there will be no tsunami of grief
hammering me wave after wave
leaving me gasping for air
as seagulls circle



Hunger stones as memorials
hunger stones as warnings
of famine of drought of
emaciated animals, failing crops
of too many bodies to bury

Stones embedded into river banks
in 1417, 1616, 1717, 1842, 1892
carved with words or pictures
to warn people that when the stone is
exposed, the river is perilously low

So many hunger stones now visible
our land parched and burning
revealing the truth buried beneath

A toy gun held by a twelve year old boy
I can’t breathe cried eleven times
a stolen box of cigars, a counterfeit
twenty dollar bill, a man asleep in his car
a man selling loose cigarettes

Hunger stones named Eric Garner,
Michael Brown, Tamir Rice,
Walter Scott, Alton Sterling,
Philando Castile, Stephon Clark
Breonna Taylor, George Floyd

Wenn du mich siehst, dann weine
carved on a hunger stone in the Czech Republic
If you see me, weep



I try for a Zen-like state as I peel carrots
feeling the movement of my hand
hearing the slick slick of the blade
watching slender skin slide away
the carrot as the entire world

I think of losing you, a table for one
at Rivoli’s, staring at a single
slice of mushroom-garlic pizza
the untouched glass of chianti
I breathe and return to the carrot

Chopping it into thick chunks
thunk thunk on the cutting board
whisking peels into the compost
I think of only one toothbrush
one dimpled pillow on the bed
and return to the carrot

Its impossible orange
its slightly pungent smell
the neon feathery tops
but present, oh so present
to the terror of losing you
and the tears on the counter

Author Claire Scott has received multiple Pushcart Prize nominations. Her work has appeared in 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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