ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Stephen Jackson

Among the Wastes of Time

My brother reads every sonnet from
The Complete Works of Shakespeare our
sister buys him for his twelfth birthday.

Within the year, the pristine moon
will bear the footprints of a human,
a U.S. flag, and other space detritus.

While I, at ten, splash in a child’s pool
my mother reluctantly buys for me
after insistent begging and crying.

The Vietnam War plays out before us
on the television, The Now Explosion,
the frequent reruns of I Love Lucy.

Veils of innocence torn and frayed —
the Beatles, Charles Manson, Woodstock
in the wings, and Nixon on the way.

Mother, concerned about a grown boy
splashing in a backyard kiddie pool
because, what will the neighbors think.


Pinhole Image

A square inch cut
of aluminum can
placed for a lens
in an old shoebox.

A sheet of
photographic paper
placed flat at
the back in a
pitch black closet.

New eye         
to hold in my
hands, to capture                                
a moment’s light
back in 1985.

The print, my
first dipped into
the acidic solution,
scratched by
a pair of tongs.

I have it
still, the college
campus building
immersed in trees
and sun —

I was going
to be someone.


Spiritual Reflection

There they stand, single file in their
creased black slacks, starched white shirts
and ties, all lined-up from the vestibule
down to the last stone step of the church

awaiting their Holy Communion with
the body and blood of — Jesus Christ,
who decides, I wonder as I pass, that
this is still a proper way to raise a child.

Then one of them looks back at me as
I disappear in the crowd — hair mussed,
corner of the mouth turned-up, one eye
going wild — and I hear familiar words,

This one will do God proud.


Stephen Jackson lives in the Pacific Northwest. His poetry has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize and once for Bettering American Poetry. His poems have appeared in The American Journal of PoetryCypress PressDoor Is A JarFeralA Journal of Poetry and ArtHole In The Head ReviewImpossible ArchetypeOne (Jacar Press), Stone of Madness Press, and on the International Human Rights Art Festival Publishes platform.

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