ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Claire Scott


The film director, editing, cutting, redacting,
renouncing. What’s left on the floor we never
see. What’s spliced in looks almost seamless.

Yet sometimes we discover disturbing gaps:
a fear of orange, nausea at the smell of leather.
Clips of history on the cutting floor.

Maybe an uncle in flashy shirt. Maybe driving a brand
new Cadillac, stopping on a secluded road by an old mine shaft.
Turning to touch a child.

Or the story’s smooth but makes no sense.
How could a mother have played princess dolls, baked cookies,
when she stayed in bed all day, pills by her side.

The screen writer searches for language to wrap
the marrow. Always aiming, mostly missing, like my son
speaking French or my sister explaining black holes.

The story gallops ahead, skipping age six, age seventeen.
Or limps behind, hesitant, not wanting to catch up to
the husband, the black eyes, the stiches, the shelter.

I watch the film and listen to the lines, to the words.
Always aiming, mostly missing. I can see words won’t work.
Let the silence between the words tell the story.



Grabbing fistfuls
plunking into buckets
two five year olds in a forever summer
bathing suits, bare feet, bug bites on our legs,
sand between our toes, salty skin, sun-bleached hair
my cousin Carlo and I
hidden behind the prickly plants
hurling beach tomatoes at passing cars
mostly missing, but an occasional
satisfying thump that sent us tumbling to the ground
giggling and tickling each other in delight

A red-faced driver stopped, his mirror cracked
our fathers spanked us, said we were sinners
and would freeze in hell

A child stepped onto ice
the gunshot of cracking
falling through, dragged downstream
I couldn’t imagine life without Carlo
I couldn’t imagine forever
I screamed and sobbed, threw picture books
and Madame Alexander dolls
my mother looked annoyed and walked away
leaving me with nightmares of being
trapped under ice, struggling to breathe

Paying dearly for that sunny summer day



Every million years in the stone cold
pit of January there is an election.
The current God’s term has expired. 
You can see him (sic) shuffling into the proverbial
sunset, sycophants and seraphim in his wake.
He looks unhinged, slugging holy wine, gobbling
wafers, not wanting to leave anything behind.

Candidates cast their hard hats,
turbans, baseball caps, berets, beanies,
yarmulkes, veils and hijabs into the ring.
They brag of miracles. Water to wine.
Loaves to fishes. Soaring stock market.
Perfect pie crust. Teen agers who say
thank you and do their chores without
muttering under their breath.

Over here is a group called G-Anon waving
signs: God Not Needed! No More God!
They point to fires licking Joshua Trees,
floods swallowing homes of the poor,
pandemics and pointless promises.
They ask why spend money on gilded churches,
ostentatious temples, mosques with handmade tiles,
when a woman lies right here on the sidewalk,
a child leaning against her, holding a piece of her skirt
tight in his tiny fist.


Claire Scott is an award winning poet who 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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