ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Miriam Kotzin



Mirth is what we sweep 
out with the crumbs

and empty griefs.  Yes,
my mother left me

these rows of hissing jars,
what she wanted saved,

crammed or floating.
Bulbous anomalies 

darken, unnerving 
as specimen exhibits.

Meanwhile, over windfalls
of knobby pears, yellow

jackets hover in the sun, 
burrow deep into fierce rot. 


Even These Are Betrayals

The yellow sky lies on the lawn, 
a silk shawl I shrugged away. 

You bring nothing back for me
to trust but old admonitions. 

In taproots I find everything 
we need for reproach. 

I am impatient and irritable,
November rain on a red tin roof. 

Nonetheless, you must know: 
just this year I missed the iris.

The lilies I transplanted, forgotten,
are nothing now but rusty scraps,

your circus of tulips in ruins. 
I walked away like a jilted bride.


A Poet and Her Sorrows Are Soon Parted  

I used to be impatient. “When,
will the old pear tree bloom again?”
How I called for spring!
“Winter will not bring
one fine thing to my pen.”

You might have thought all my ink had
turned to ice—or stone, my notepad
barren as the pear
tree’s boughs winter-bare,
indrawn, wary, and sad.

What a fool I was to wish time 
away. What season is more fine
than the one just past?
Does Earth twirl too fast
for one last measured line?

Miriam N. Kotzin is the author of five collections of poetry, most recently, Debris Field (David Robert Books, 2016).  Her novel, Right This Way, (Spuyten Duyvil Publishing, 2023) joins a novel, The Real Deal (Brick House Press, 2012), her collection of short fiction, Country Music (Spuyten Duyvil publishing, 2017), and a collection of flash fiction, Just Desserts (Star Cloud Press 2010).  Her fiction and poetry have been published in anthologies and numerous periodicals such as Shenandoah, Boulevard, SmokeLong Quarterly, Eclectica, Mezzo Cammin, and Valparaiso Poetry Review.  She teaches creative writing and literature at Drexel University.  


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