ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Mark Young

A well-tempered murine sequence

The popular success of Hansel & Gretel was a surprise to the Grimms. In fact, the whole collection of Kinder- und Hausmärchen provided a serendipitous way to fund their on-going research into, & collecting examples of, Volkspoesie.

As an aside, they tracked the movement of words across countries & plotted their consonantal drift. How D in one language translates in time to T in another, und so weiter. Now known as Grimm's Law, singular, after the elder brother.

A century earlier J. S. Bach had trialled a somewhat similar path in a different field. There is his strange transcription of the Toccata & Fugue in D Minor that uses only letters, four of them, C, A, & G, plus D replaced by T. The fugue is base-paired—A is T's counterpoint, G is C's.

The Grimms didn't understand what Bach had been up to, not even the younger who was, supposedly, musically inclined. Beyond them. Beyond everybody for two centuries until 449 scientists & a super-computer finally figured out the mouse genome & went on to publish their results in a multi-authored Nature paper.




So you
Appropriate clothes.
Take walks / early
in the morning / late
in the evening / those
times when the sun
doesn’t share the
pathway. Learn
to differentiate
between looks
like it might
rain &
looks like rain. Fit
in. Appear
to. The body
aligned. The mind
stays elsewhere.


Leaving Sevastopol

The Crimean War is over. Smoke
no longer rises from the Inkerman
Mill. The sugarcane trash packed a-
way for another season, & farm

houses torn down. A load of
compressed scrap metal passes
by on the bridge across the
river. For a moment he remembers

working on the Wellington
wharves — 16 years old, but age
increased on his identity card —
filling a ship's hold with loose

scrap metal, on its way overseas
to be turned into finite things —
carts, cannons, artillery shells.
The Crimean War is never over.


Mark Young’s first published poetry appeared over sixty-two years ago. Much more recent work has appeared in Moss Trill, Scud, Ygdrasil, Mobius, SurVision, Don't Submit!, Unlikely Stories, Synchronized Chaos, & Word For/Word.

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