ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Judy Kronenfeld

Fog and Glare

Brain buzzing every minute of the night,
turn left? turn right?
stay straight? I cannot reconstruct
my destination—in my dreamed mind only
raspy fog sticking like burrs, and no dissolve
into the goal I must recall, supermarket?
post office? doctor’s? in order not
to be immobilized at this flashing
stoplight. Then I force my foot
off the brake to turn this closest corner
staring at me in stupor,
and then I’m wildly cornering like a bumper
car, the quiet skin of the familiar
peeled off all the buildings—
which I can neither recognize
nor ignore—revealing a stark whiteness,
mica-bright,  that drills my eyes. My head on fire,
I desert the ticking van, stumbling
from the impenetrable street
through an open door. It’s Rite-Aid,
Open Late. And like my dead, demented father,
I hand the clerk the note I carry
with the ciphers of my name and number,
hoping he can tell me who I am. 


After, and Before

Yesterday, the flash supernova
of the diagnosis
almost stifled in her husband’s arms,
she did want, she didn’t want
the moment he gravely said,
you know I’m here
no matter what—

How much she needed
to push him away,
or have him abscond with her
into Before, how lucky she is, in After,
to have him—

though imprisoned in the citadel
of her own skin.

Today, pre-arranged visitors muffling
the humming silence, the As If of Before
so close...

Yet, in the supermarket
before the guests arrived,  the insuperable
beauty of the Muzak—wave
upon wave of “Autumn Leaves”
flooding her ears—proof she has entered

Now, at three in the morning,
she wakes flailing,
pitched into a boundless sea—
fear like water
filling her mouth.

Now, it is absolute After,
and he sleeps
on the warm, private beach
of the well.


Judy Kronenfeld’s most recent full-length collections of poetry are Bird Flying through the Banquet (FutureCycle, 2017), Shimmer (WordTech, 2012), and Light Lowering in Diminished Sevenths, 2nd edition (Antrim House, 2012)—winner of the 2007 Litchfield Review Poetry Book Prize. Her fifth collection, Groaning and Singing, is forthcoming from FutureCycle Press in 2022. Her poems have appeared in American Poetry Journal, Cimarron Review, Connotation Press, New Ohio Review, Offcourse, One (Jacar Press), Rattle, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and other journals, and in more than two dozen anthologies. She is Lecturer Emerita, Dept. of Creative Writing, UC Riverside, and an Associate Editor of Poemeleon.

Return to Offcourse Index.