ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Estill Pollock

Last Flight from Kabul

Last flight from Kabul—echo chamber alchemy
Blood feud war zone extraction, twenty-year card house
Gone in a week

People with papers not the right papers, sprint
The runway, climb landing gear
As planes taxi out, but the deal done
Months ago decides
The busted flush, Americans texting goodbye

Civilians digging holes in winter
Looking for a future, shovelling cold-spud IEDs, asking
Can we eat these

Of Taliban, of last Marines, of the ambassador’s wife they ask
OK to eat these

For the trillion-dollar stash, of tanks, of ground-to-air
Munitions, machine parts, regimental heraldries
On doors to looted offices, of aisles of condoms
Cosmetics, oil drum BBQs, of a Burger King sign
And a shell hole through it, of hardened steel shelters
Of secrets, of lies, a reckoning

Down alleyways collaborators fade, fading
Loyalties, fading print on fade-out papers, their neighbours pointing
After them, to fighters searching
Door to door

The soil here, thin as Reaper wings, confirms
A weary intuition, past satellites
And digital embargos the arrow flights of Persia
Or the Khan—these graves, the bones of dead battalions
Gathered with our own


Under the Sahara

Under the Sahara, fossil water, Pleistocene
Aquifers, enough to float a fleet, quench fields in Chad
And Egypt, water locked in rock slow-pumped
To village wells

Headmen parley with their neighbours—cattle wealth
In water rights, for goats, brides

At thirty-thousand feet the world
Looks small, its deserts smudged orange, water
Thin as atmospheres catching late sun
Toylike in its own reflection

At this height, the beaches an ink scrawl
On the Kansas coast, palm trees wafting
In the offshore breeze—the sea at Wichita a hedge fund
Shy of sirocco futures, sweet on geotherms


A Sweat-Stain River

A sweat-stain river—sediments banded
AstroTurf green, shrill-yellow tetrazine, spills
Into the choke of gravel above the village

Stilt dwellings shade against furnace noon

In the mud, wet rot waterlines of boats
Only the dead recall, their nets once set
For ratchet-jawed fish, tatter-fin names
Among the oldest words

A barefoot girl waits on the slip, around her neck
A string of river shells—the motor launch heard
Long before rounding the channel’s bend

Medicine and magazines, a picture book—the doctors
Always come

Inland, a sparse inheritance, bleached hectares
Of the new

Locals face 'dozers, waving signs against
Razed canopies of hardwood
And the viney reaches—palm oil clearances
For the corporate trough

All jailed, fewer bailed, beyond
The ragged border on the day
Of his release, the one who made the signs
Beaten to a grease

Moonlight, cold, a long shadow
Jagging through the stumps

Orang-utan, wild eyed, sloping low
Across the empty quarter


Author Estill Pollock's first pamphlet edition of poems, Metaphysical Graffiti, was published in England. This was followed by the full collection, Constructing the Human (Poetry Salzburg)Between 2005-11, he published the book cycle, Relic Environments Trilogy (Cinnamon Press). His latest poetry collections are Entropy (Broadstone Books) and the forthcoming Time Signatures. He lives in Norfolk, England.

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