ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Lou Gallo


Continental plates shift like freight cars
Loaded with eggs and oxygen tanks.
Something blows up, something sinks in Timor,
A typhoon of hornets takes Constantine
As he introduces Byzantium to Christ.
They shoot messengers, don’t they?
Grizzled sumbitch with no teeth,
Blind and drunk, yet bearing the news
Sealed with insignia wax–

Paid a lousy picayune in the good ole days
When Bienville sunk his boot
Into a rotten cypress stump and said, “This is it!”
You gotta love everything you don’t.
The terra was never firma warned Heraclitus,
Or if he didn’t, but he did, he should have.
Infirmities of soul advertise the body
And probably vice versa, misericord(ia).

I’m taking this way too hard.
There’s this jaw in the middle of the Milky Way
Called The Great Attractor
And it’s sucking us all toward and into it.
Sort of like the love of Blake’s invisible worm.
Harpoon me through the mantle and into the core.
Make it stick. No pussyfooting. Where’s Ahab?
All other ground is sinking sand.

Oh, we sung our hearts out in them days,
Prayed, davened, sucked up, obsequious hoes
We were . . . and all for a pitiful Ritz cracker
Smeared with hummus. Couldn’t ask for more.
Couldn’t but should have. I think I can’t.
Chug chug.  Where we headed, Casey?
Not over that edge I hope. I mean, it has teeth!

Suppose you leave the cave and behold
Light that merely illuminates a greater cave?
Just pray, son, you don’t ever have to atone.
You ain't in deep, but deep enough.



--Besides, the sad’s a source of the sublime . . .
                     --Lord Byron, Don Juan

It breaks upon you without warning
like strafe from an obsidian cloud.
The laser eyes of the Hyena of Doubt
transfix you: I believe in nothing.

You joke with friends at the Absolute Café
as usual but they sense a simulacrum.
You make love but she embraces a shadow.
Your taxi searches the necropolis
for an Urgent Care treating Emptiness.
No such disease laugh the interns
as you slink away, ashamed, hollow.

You consult experts, read Schopenhauer.
None soothe, warning that if the fever takes hold
you may vanish entirely into the Cloud
of Knowing-All-Too-Well that reality
is an assassin, a saboteur, the tempter
of details, the suzerain of beautiful dreams,
the ultimate despoiler and fraud.

Thank whatever, you sigh, when it
dissolves into the illusion that it is.



nothing depends
a broken wheel
encrusted with dried-up
beside the dead


Four volumes of Louis Gallo’s poetry, Archaeology, Scherzo Furiant, Crash and Clearing the Attic, are now available. Why is there Something Rather than Nothing? and Leeway & Advent will be published soon.  He was invited for and interview and reading of his work by National Public Radio’s program “With Good Reason,” broadcast across the country, 2021. His work appears in Best Short Fiction 2020. A novella, “The Art Deco Lung,” will soon be published in Storylandia.  National Public Radio aired a reading and discussion of his poetry on its “With Good Reason” series (December 2020).His work has appeared or will shortly appear in Wide Awake in the Pelican State (LSU anthology), Southern Literary Review, Fiction Fix, Glimmer Train, Hollins Critic, Rattle, Southern Quarterly, Litro, New Orleans Review, Xavier Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Missouri Review, Mississippi Review, Texas Review, Baltimore Review, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, The Ledge, storySouth,  Houston Literary Review, Tampa Review, Raving Dove, The Journal (Ohio), Greensboro Review, and many others.  Chapbooks include The Truth Changes, The Abomination of Fascination, Status Updates and The Ten Most Important Questions. He is the founding editor of the now defunct journals, The Barataria Review and Books: A New Orleans Review.  His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize several times. He is the recipient of an NEA grant for fiction.  He teaches at Radford University in Radford, Virginia.

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