ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Mark DeCarteret


I Heart Muse
                         for Susann Foster Brown


Call out for lack of a calling, for the ease
or the chore of it, the unsolicited ache.
For all those at-rest, settled-in, and all those
who've been x'd out, deleted from text--
cast to space’s many recesses but soon restored
to the streets slickened with traffic and rain,
the trapped air of the factories, let in late,
tallied unto the rest with their rarest of intent.

And call out from the chest--all that it shelters
and teaches us, whether carol or chant,
the unorchestrated, whether clichéd or ill-dealt,
rich in secrets.  Call out if you have the ear,
inclination, all is near-sacred.  From the shore
where we’ll resort to the odes of those past,
or those trees where we’ll cheat towards a star’s
wavering artistry.  Crane your heads, no note parts.


My Muse Struggles to Get Out of the 19th Century 

Outside, I’d tout our routine again—
an anonymous host stowed away
in my ear, ever informing me of the earth’s
undying worth, in-demand sort of theater—

here, its dewy eyed reasonings
there, its seas taking measure of shorelines
seeming to free me up from life’s come-ons, defilements
for more mark downs and blank reassurances

while inside, they’d sold me complete with a chair
where I lowered myself to the ceaselessly dreamt
reaching after these ghosts of ideas 
of no use but to ease out of, amuse myself

what little is left of me—these most unreal memories
won’t let itself be addressed by any of the light
or suggest any of what night has restaged
it so as not to be noticeably felt

but to only be, listen up! Noted as
artlessly mad and insistent on drama
thrown together from worry and doubt
made to draw the word out, order


My Muse Paints My Portrait

It makes do with black and white.
And a red so bright it’s called “Chagall’s First Kiss.”

It can’t tell where I end and my dream begins.
All I know is there are goats and they are sailing.  

Light is like that, they say. Less about what it’s 
felt for you. More, what is still left of it by nightfall.


While My Muse Will Remain the Sea’s

till eternity’s ever-rumored return,
she’ll still only outlast the land

and its unyielding rulings,
sun-reasoned surfaces,

all those hills fired red
and the shore’s

senseless reassurances
so engrained in her stereo-memory,

dreaming of an air rid of the slightest
of night’s miry chill or gentlest rain,

in order that she’ll stay re-married,
somewhat true to that ideal,

her arms parting
with yet one more sea,

her legs, once again, starting out
from one long-held desire.  


Mark DeCarteret has had some luck somewhat recently with The American Poetry Review, Fence, Gargoyle, Guesthouse, Hole in the Head Review, Nine Mile Magazine, and Plume Literary Journal.

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