ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Louis Phillips


I was 48 yrs old
When my 6 yr old son
Asked: How do rocks get made?
I thought: Rocks were here forever,
Underwater even,
Where great tectonic shifts took place
& volcanoes heaved them up,
Vast explosions
Into the vacancy of the universe.
“Great question, “ I told him.
“I don’t know,” I answered.



 Aye, on the shores of darkness there is light.”
                                             John Keats

On the shore of darkness,
The swamp has its share
Of  dragonflies,
& succulent Live-For-Ever
With its coarse teeth,
Impossible species
In improbable locations
Like a random idea
Inside a human skull,
Floundering with spawn
Communicating mostly
By grunts & growls.
Small lives in the swamp
Live without thinking,
But to be human
Is to face reality & mortality
As Nature piles up
Leaf upon leaf
Over several layers of bone.

Is the swamp haunted?
No easy answer.
Swamp gas & marsh lights
Are not signals,
The scratch & screech
Of leaf-shaped palmetto bugs
& other small bodies
Scrunched in dampness.

Weather is what we inhabit,
Our conversation.
Windy gusts.
Cypress leaves
Like an escaped slave
Tremble & shiver.
Less exact than they were before,
Rest on air, are air,
Whereas the sky is everywhere at once.
Immaculate, hovering over
Landscapes, seascapes, & men,
Lending to our lives
All sorts of brilliance.



At one time or other
You and I have found ourselves in places
Where we had no right to be.
For me, such a place can be pinpointed:
It was in the middle of my own life.



What a strange house is the House of Grief.
No matter how small the rooms.
There are corridors. Endless corridors.
It is a house of hallways,
So all day long
We walk back & forth, back & forth.

Louis Phillips' most recent publications are THE BOOK OF EPIGRAPHS and, forthcoming this month, his latest book of poems --THE MUSIC OF LIGHT REGRET-- (World Audience Books). 

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