ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Claire Scott



Have you noticed
how you cling to
the banister going downstairs
how you leave sticky notes
on the counter, the mirror
the fridge and forget to read them
have you noticed
how you drive more slowly
get lost coming home from Lucky’s
crawl like a banana slug on freeways
unhappy cars honking behind you
what of boots left listless
no longer hiking alone with a bag
of trail mix and a crumpled map

Have you noticed
how you no longer pay attention to time
watching old movies past midnight
Apocalypse Now, Star Wars
eating Oreos in bed
crumbs sprinkled on the sheets
waking to noon’s pointed light
have you noticed
how you let laundry pile high
dust settle on chairs
bills stack on your desk
while you read Alice Walker
and write poems for your own pleasure
have you noticed



I am missing my reason for living
I thought I had it right here
in my pile of Important Things
but all I see is a grocery list
(scotch, canned soup, more scotch)
and pages of instructions
on how to set my clock back an hour
who cares
so here I am calling to you
from the bottom of a well
where I have been living for months
haunted by images of stealth,
moments of anger, flashes of failure,
drowning in an riptide of regret

But more and more memories are becoming illegible
fading like a Cheshire cat or invisible ink
which is OK by me since what
you don’t remember never happened
(or do memories still niggle at night)
did I really hit my child
cheat on my husband
not include tips on my taxes
fumbling toward forgiveness
no idea how it all works
help me out here
do I need to email the gods
or give money to World Wildlife
do I chant OM for endless hours
or buy a hair shirt from Amazon
and where is my reason for living
I am sure I had it right here
under the Turn Off  alert from PG&E
and an unopened notice from the IRS
yet the future keeps showing up
and that’s the good news



Polar opposites my parents
like smooth and serrated
like woven and frayed
I floated for years like an albatross
with no place to land

One stiff, logical, serious (father)
singing Bach in the church choir
coloring carefully within the lines
always on time, never touching alcohol
preferring puns to belly laughs

One creative, quirky, chaotic (mother)
also depressed and often inebriated
who never even noticed the lines
as she painted huge canvasses
with splashes of gaudy colors

A father who paid the bills and took us
to the dentist, the doctor
a mother who tossed spaghetti
on the walls to see if it was done
I chose my father, wanting to live

In a pi r squared world of perfect circles
with rules and reason
but as I get older and brittle
and more rigid in my ways
as I stick to a comfortable routine

The dry ditto of duplicate days
I miss my mother
not the abuse and the alcohol
not the dark times of despair
but the wild beauty that was wrung
from her windblown and weird
and whimsical bipolar cloud


Claire Scott is an award winning poet who has received multiple Pushcart Prize nominations. Her work has appeared in the Atlanta Review, Bellevue Literary Review, New Ohio Review, Enizagam and Healing Muse among others. Claire is the author of Waiting to be Called and  Until I Couldn’t. She is the co-author of Unfolding in Light: A Sisters’ Journey in Photography and Poetry. 

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