ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Claire Scott



I expect the worst

even as a kid I expected birthday
presents I didn’t want, like another

loser Chutes and Ladders game
I expected a D on my spelling test

even though I was the best speller in the class
and today for sure my car will need new brakes

new struts, new tires, not just a tune up
for sure the grocery store will be

out of Meyer lemons and heavy cream
and my dessert will be a disaster

and the doctor will find
warts or high blood pressure or lung cancer

for sure the maple tree will fall on the house
in tonight’s high winds

and I will have to move to a hotel
I can’t possibly afford

and end up panhandling by Route 580
holding a cardboard sign in the pouring rain

as cars roar past
and drivers pretend not to see

but most of all I am worried my heart
is too stressed from all this worrying

and will pack up veins and arteries
and move to Wyoming


I Never Said I Was Well

Oh to slip into the slipstream of another life
glide along behind a Buddhist monk
eased by the sound Sanskrit
or a poet who writes by the light
of whispered words
anything but this stutter-stepping life
this start and stop syncopated life
drinking water from mirages
or bourbon until blotto
I want to strip mine my memories
and plant new ones, maybe yours
instead of flicker-flacker memories
of my first former husband’s fist
the Fiat that swerved, a fractured skull
the boss who fired me for a four hour lunch
(but who can drive to Vegas, swig martinis
and play the slots in under an hour)
I deserve a break every now and then
don’t you agree
but I digress
I want you to know I change my underwear
floss my teeth and eat only white food
no need for deep conversations about
who the next worse president is
or where we will go once the planet
floods or withers or explodes
could I slide in softly beside you
and live on your life
for just a little while



The corporation planted poison ivy in my yard last night
five plants, five feet apart
along with twenty pink flamingos
you know the tacky kind you see on cheap lawns
not the nicer ones with solar lights
I called the police but Laura (they are all named Laura)
is tired of hearing from me and tells me to see
a doctor or simply hangs up or doesn’t bother
to answer when she sees my name

I have a doctor who thinks I am just fine
although she has suggested a brief night or two
in Lord Have Mercy Hospital
along with something called DBS or TMS or ECT
to help me leave the house, make some friends
but my neighbors are nosey, peering in my windows
at night, stealing my mail, wearing backward baseball caps
my doctor gives me pink pills to take twice a day
I toss them in the trash

As a kid I was left alone with my Ginny dolls
dressing and undressing them in the shadow of curtains
my mother kept closed even on sunny days
while she stayed in bed behind a barricaded door
she warned me to watch out for strangers,
to cross the street or I might be dragged off in a car,
beaten, beheaded and dumped by the roadside
at night I could hear her crying as I lay awake
listening to my father banging on the triple locked door

I notice dirt under my nails, five empty containers in the garage
I notice a charge for $23.99 on my credit card
I call the police


Author 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 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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