ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Ellaraine Lockie

Exercise in Opposites on an Alaska Cruise


The cruise is overdue
At fifty-four I undertake my first float

on the oversized Dawn Princess
Where the passengers are not underprivileged

Instead are overstated while
I am underscored in jeans and T-shirt

Oversight of a warm jacket
My undergone assumptions wrong

The overeaters congregate in caf├ęs
The underweight in a work-out room

I overlook both options
Stay undercovers with a book

An activity overruled by my roommate
as he undercuts me with the TV

I’m overcome by deck crowds
Underfoot in camera and camcorder frenzy

that focuses on overabundant backdrops
and the underage girl bearing a bikini

Ogled by men with overdressed wives
Who are underbidding at the bridge table
and overindulging at the buffet

Both sexes on the underside of insolvent
Cruise credit cards overcharged at casinos

Even motion sickness is overpriced
by sixty dollar doctor minimums
for over-the-counter medications

And professional photos are undermined
by the overcharge they fix

Overdressing is enforced at formal dinners
But four lobster tails at one meal
understate the bother

Excess extends to evening entertainment
that is overacted by understudies

And audience inertia is overcome
by country western line dancing
on an underlying deck

Where I resist overtures
from the cruise Casanova

Retire to my undersized room
Where claustrophobia washes
in overnight waves

And I awake to the undertow
of another overseas day



As a child I pretended their intolerance was ignorance
Racism too ugly a brand to mar
my perception of perfect Montana farm people
when bigotry crept like weeds into crops of wheat

Passed down from eighth-grade-educated parents
with God-fearing goodness
But hailing hypocrisy when
Harlem Globetrotters needed housing
And were banished to the next bucolic county
Where toddlers were told to wash
because Indians may have held that half dollar
And where malice still wars with mixed marriages

I pretended their intolerance was inexperience
The only exposure inherited
from history's deep South
Reinforced by racial slurs
and ethnic insults hoodwinked as humor

I pretended until the whitewash
ran red from sins of ancestors
From discrimination that pre-dates the Civil War
When founding fathers fenced Native Americans
Roping them off in reservation corrals
With federal guilt funding that couldn't convert
to American middle class

Or compensate for a lost way of life
Altered over time into alcoholism
poverty and apathy
A hundred years of segregation
preceding their one saloon in town
An offering locals consider liberal
And anyone who thinks it's not enough
is one of those Jane Fonda types
from California and probably communist
Someone who can’t excuse as indifference
an agrarian apartheid

Ellaraine Lockie's new co-authored collection, TRIO, was just released from Poetrylandia. Chapbook collections have won Poetry Forum’s Chapbook Contest Prize, San Gabriel Valley Poetry Festival Chapbook Competition, Encircle Publications Chapbook Contest, Best Individual Poetry Collection Award from Purple Patch magazine in England, and The Aurorean’s Chapbook Choice Award. Her poems have found their ways onto broadsides, buses, rented cars, bicycles, cabins, greeting cards, key chains, bookmarks, mugs, coffee sack labels, church bulletins, radio shows and cable TV. She also teaches writing workshops and serves as Poetry Editor for the lifestyles magazine, LILIPOH.

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