ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Louis Gallo



Don’t know how I wound up
in this pit of quicksand, my sombrero
perched upon a cactus spoke,
a ragged buzzard squatting atop it,
that ghost town nearby the gulley.
I’m in chest deep now and, oh,
the pressure on my heart.

This is what happens when you try
to remain a rectitudinous man.
We took the Alamo all right
and I personally raised our flag.
Viva Santa Ana. I didn’t kill
nobody though and could be
the General deserted me because
of that and the bleeding wound
in my groin. I can hear my brothers
screaming up near the river where
the Americans are slaughtering them
as they siesta after the carnage.

Revenge looks futile from this vantage.
Never ends, eon after eon, lurks
in the mind like, well, quicksand.
Guess I’ll wind up like one of those
peat-bog corpses, black and mangled
but precious to archaeologists.

If only we knew our fates before
we were born and could self-abort
if things looked bad. Up to my neck
now. The buzzard has flapped away.
One last smile for me as I remember
those sweet trysts with Simon Bolivar’s
granddaughter back in Copacabana,
we both then sixteen and immortal.

Adios, chums. Guess it's worth it
after all.



Nothing finer than when first the eyes
of new lovers lock, that visual transport
and transcendence, the instant communion
of desire, an immensity that, alas,
cannot sustain through time and yet mocks time
with fervid remembrance . . .

why, I recall once in Byzantium, her gaze
upon me set and, magnetized, my own gaze
secured--as if voo dooed, we stood both
dumbfounded and aghast but mostly sublimed
and would have so remained forever
if so blessed. For that splendor of the eyes
is greater than what follows, that one moment
that leads to all the rest, the clumsy hopes
of flesh to incarnate and canticle what once
softly detonated as pure, resplendent light.



Sugie dips her long black soup spoon
into an earthen bowl of ratatouille
and sips for taste and believes
for that instant she has tasted God.

Any gain in information here
means an increase in entropy there.
At the moment of her rapture
Bolivia vanishes into a sink hole.
The equations for information theory
and thermodynamic disorder are identical.

The more we learn, the faster
the universe disappears.
Think dark matter and energy.
Well, I’m no Shannon nor Szilard,
which should be obvious—
so I go by the popular glosses
and even then have a hard time
grasping the import.

But I know right now that my basement
is flooding again and ice laminates
the front steps. Somebody somewhere
must be tasting God anew.
And, oh, that ratatouille is platonic.
Be sure to roast the vegetables separately
before stirring into an ignorant broth.
I prefer a lot of garlic and onions
but it’s anybody’s game.

My own information has dwindled
with the years. There must be
a new planet or star simmering
in the cosmic crockpot.
Or maybe Sugie saved Bolivia.



There was a bland hippopotamus
Who longed to be wild and preposterous.
To gain such aplomb
He swallowed a bomb
But became instead hippoposthumous.



Yeats caught the drift all right, must be reading
his journals of youth, as I am now, which seem
scarcely plausible from scarecrow vantage—
all that sound and fury, the antics and hijinks,
gains and losses (as if tabulations on an IRS form),
the assignations and rendezvouses, energy
and passion, those who loved us, those
who wanted us dead, a freak show of sorts,
all of us consigned to that head of a pin
we deem the past, slim tip of a light cone,
all of us, deranged and rearranged, drowning
in fluent, evanescent froth and foam—

makes you wonder about the ancestors,
how they too, their nymphs and satyrs
gone now, gone forever, how they too
fared. I suspect precisely the same.
They too romped in their heydays, their halcyons,
their Golden Epochs, as will descendants
to come in cyclic Eternal recurrence,
look there—tearful Peleus still stares
at Thetis with limbs delicate as an eyelid.

I see her face in my brain’s eye, the nymph
of the ages as I, satyr, peer from a bush—
make it pyracantha with blazing,
swollen, spectrum-hued berries drooping
from their branches, too soon dried up, scattered
on a sidewalk, trampled, crushed by passersby
who tread too late to glean their burnished glow
betokening monuments
of our muted, mythic magnificence.


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).


Return to Offcourse Index.