ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Lavinia Blossom

To Never Arrive

Always more life. No use
for terms like termination or begin. No
significance to setting out
except as an extension to the journey,
a segment traversed. Vivacity
steady, or at least enough vim and spark
in each body for the journey
through the continuous now. Not until
or up to some point or pinnacle
or even some depression.

Depressions?  Well, slumps and sloughs,
the possibility ever open for another view,
another climb to see new vistas. Or, if the legs
are not capable of a labored ascent, a cane
or hiking pole along a flat circuit. Whether that
or the bumpy struggle, respite in pauses for
shade and a look around. The self,
with its vulnerable core that might prove
to be less or more than its cover, equal
to the path, the task, a traveling show
playing over and over, entertained
and entertaining, wherever it goes.


If Letta was My Bedside Lamp

Say I had gone to bed but not to
sleep, lay a long while before deciding
that a book would help me to relax.
It would be a mistake.

If I clicked the light on, Letta would
start right in, “Here I am,
as summoned. Is this bright
enough? Well, tough. That’s all I’ve got.
And let me tell you...listen to what...”

She’d be eager as a dog left in a cage
for hours without a bone to gnaw. When
she was in my art class and I suggested
nudging her more frequently to lift
a pencil or a brush, she said, “Well, crack
the whip and you won’t see me anymore.”

The class, for her, was somewhere to
unload a stream of stories about family.
She called our sessions therapy, voicing
complaints, showing photos around,
which she’d taken so that one day, if she
lived that long, she’d render them with
paint--mostly pics of flowers and skies.

Her words wove a mesh that held her up,
or together, held her among us, allowed her
to be sure she was present and included as she
did her best to light up the room.


A Reluctant Confession

It was summer. My sister and I had my brother’s
BB gun, unloaded. I shot at weeds. She shot at
the ground, making the dirt jump. I pointed,
said there were invisible animals there
jigging, kicking their feet up.

This may have been the worst thing I have ever
done, the stupidest, the most ill-conceived.
I didn’t plan it, simply thought it, carried
through. Wasn’t it supposed to be a harmless
little trick? Didn’t I know better? Although
very young, I had reason, sense. I did
my chores properly, saved my allowance.

I told my sister there was something up the barrel
and persuaded her to look. Then I pulled
the trigger. Of course, the power of that blast
of air in her eye hurt badly. She cried and I was
stricken. I didn’t foresee the terrible bruising or
the awful soreness for days, then weeks. “You
could have blinded her,” my Mother said,
and so it was true for me that day and long after.

I had tried to blind my sister, who,
now and then reminds me of what I did,
and of Mother’s words. I tell her it haunts
me, that I am so grateful there was no lasting
damage, that I can’t explain what possessed
me. I wish, every time, I could go back to my
young self and tell her: if you don’t
reconsider, you will regret this, never stop
repenting. Each time you remember,
you will feel small, wonder
whether you know yourself at all.


Lavina Blossom is a visual artist (painting and mixed media) as well as a writer.  She grew up in rural Michigan and now lives in Southern California. Her poems have appeared in various journals, including 3Elements ReviewThe Paris Review, The Innisfree Poetry JournalPoemeleon, and Ekphrastic Review.

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