ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Judy Kronenfeld


My burning hip,
your aching neck,
my creaky knee,
your tender spine.

Now we sleep,
avoiding pain,                        
at outposts
of our spacious bed—
each wrapped in ancient

Once we drowsed
curled close as pups, your arm
clasped tight around
my waist, or face-
to-face, breathing
each other’s breath.


Looks and Love

            Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
            Featured like [her], like [her] with friends possessed...
            —William Shakespeare

For N. and A.

How young girls struggle with appearances—
worshipping others’ posts on Instagram,
while searching their own mirrors in despair,
always desiring this girl’s hair and that girl’s nose,
sometimes befriending only those who seem
equally a “7.” Or a “4.”
I want to gather mine in my grandma arms
to tell them just how lovable they are.

Sweethearts—it’s true, no eyes are immune
to sparks and glitter. Even in these late decades
of my life, irises startle-blue as Newman’s
induce shivers. Yet it’s quite impossible
to summon first impressions of the faces
of lovers, and friends, even relatives
whom we once judged—minus? plus?—when we’ve known
their owners for years. Their kindness, funniness,
and open hearts make their features unseeable,

lit by who they have become to us,
cherished, because uniquely theirs—like yours.


The Ghost of Unrequited Desire

I crank the wheels of memory.
The feel of you seeps in        
like the homeless mists of the dead
supposed to rise at night in cemeteries.
Give me those Grade-B movie chills!
I’ll make you a more palpable ghost!
Owe your after-life to me!

Don’t disappear—fickle
as tears on the marble cheeks of saints
announced in the sleazy tabloids.
I’ll get high-tech equipment,
a fish-eye lens, infra-red film,
I’ll capture the field of force
around your invisible body,
I’ll prove, I’ll prove more
than the will to believe,
more than desire,
if I can once catch—
even only startled
by the camera’s flash—

your taking-me-in eyes. 

Judy Kronenfeld’s fifth book of poetry, Groaning and Singing, was published in 2022 by FutureCycle Press. Her previous collections include Bird Flying through the Banquet (FutureCycle, 2017), and Shimmer (WordTech, 2012). Her poems have appeared in Cider Press Review, Cimarron Review, Gyroscope Review, MacQueen’s Quinterly, New Ohio Review, Offcourse, One, Pratik, Rattle, Slant, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Verdad, Your Daily Poem, and other journals, and in more than three dozen anthologies.  

Return to Offcourse Index.