ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Louis Phillips


My wife stands at our bedroom window.
Where is the moon,
What have we done with it?
It was here yesterday. Where did it go?
When you are married
For as many years as we have been
So many persons, objects,
Astronomical events become neglected.
Perhaps she is counting red taillights
Of an endless line of cars
Crawling like snail to New Jersey.
Never has the George Washington Bridge,
Next to Venus, been so far away.
Or is she straining her eyesight,
Looking for our dead son
Walking on the sidewalks,
Waving to her, 14 stories up?
What are you looking at?
Christmas lights strung
Along tops of buildings across the street.
Come away from the window.
No, she says, you must see this.
What? A full moon.  There.
By the water tower.
In the end, our lives
Come down to light.



   “…no language has been invented comprehensible
  to both the living and the dead.”    Czeslaw Milosz

Not always in the throat.
Perhaps when we hear
A murder of crows in flight,
Or spy a rowboat,

Hearing the clink of metal
When oars are fitted
Into the oarlocks as we settle
Onto the thwarts.

Music begins
When we set forth on a journey
Becoming more than alive.
Thru raven-riven woods

On a path leading to a pub,
Or to a church,
Or, more happily, to home,
Music quickens the pace 

The climb may be steep,
Weather may refuse
To cooperate. Of course, maps
Are of absolutely no use

To any person who travels
Only in his sleep.
The same might be said
Of music, although mourners

Often open a hymnal
And offer a chorus
To usher the newly dead
Into another world.



Maps of our world
Contain strange worlds
Where furniture is upside down,
& hot springs flow at

Odd angles. Strangers approach
Speaking incomprehensible languages,
Past will be & Future was.
This, cartographers insist,

Is the very precinct
Of love as we know it.



Readers expect poetry to take them somewhere,
But just where
Is not easy to know.

Still we go to breathe the air,
Expecting thoughts exceedingly rare,
Enchanting music, soft & low.


Louis Phillips' most recent publications are 4 (four stories, 4 plays, & 4 poems) and Sunlight Falling to the Lake (poetry) both published by World Audience.

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