ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Edward Reilly

Afternoon Tea

If it were not for flavour, then the tea would be flat,
Acrid as sourdough or a cup of threeday old milk,
The sort mother would claim to be Greek Yoghurt
Well before such ever appeared on the grocer’s shelf.

Aunt Veronica was wont to invite me over, Sunday afternoons,
Draw a pot of tea with the Robur leaves she’d bought
From Mr. Greaves, the church organist, whose tunes
Were simple as the memories of the war he’d fought.

Chilled cucumber, fresh bread and a farmer’s butter,
A conversation about my future as Greaves’ voice
Rose from the pokey apartment on the ground floor,
His daughter vamping Mozart on the family piano,

Then flying through the door to settle and prattle,
Pout over the green slice fallen back onto the floor.
And we two had a chat about Mozart and practice
Playing, à la Brubeck, passages from Die Zauberflöte.


At Mass

The faculty of speech has been cancelled absolute.
Our lips sewn together, even our vocal cords knotted
Like so many Incan quipu, with the key tossed aside.
Fewer now in the congregation can sing ‘Magnificat’.

On my knees for as long as my arthritis will now let,
I must close my ears to twanging guitar and nasal croon
Of someone who thinks about reaching out to the people,
As though she were a new apostle to an ignorant lot.

From the Latin Missal, its pages loose after all these years,
Come sighs in a different language, whispers spin on my lips,
Slowly reforming syllables into forbidden words and phrases:
Not all reforms are necessary, or beneficial, so it appears.


The New Season

Leaves in Canada, by E. Reilly

"Canada Fall," by E. Reilly
ink and wash on paper, 2019

The new season has approached the door in quiet hour,
Longing for snow to mantle down the hills and shores
Where my thoughts ramble and lurch like a winter child,
Skating across the town’s pond to mother’s applause.

Something is filling my footprints across the wet lawn,
And falls from my line of sight whenever I turn around.
And the cat seems spooked, runs widdershins, calls
For the back door to be opened and let in from the cold.

I will take a photograph and then click <transmit>,
If only to remember the moment when a snowfall
Tumbled between the birch and the flaming maple:
An angelus perhaps, reminding me I ought be joyous.


b. 1944, resident in Geelong Victoria, where he runs writing workshops & tutors U3A Art groups. MA & PhD both in literary studies. Retired secondary teacher & sessional academic, founding editor of a literary journal, Azuria (2010 - 2019): poetry published in Australian & overseas journals & in Three Poets (2019 Geelong). In 1992, he gleefully circumnavigated the USA; LA to Cleveland, Boston & Worcester, Florida Panhandle and thence to Hawai'i. Much later, we sailed from NY to Québec just to see the maple leaves turn.

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