ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Judy Kronenfeld


If fire raged at the other end
of my street, and I had to escape,
I would object
But my desk is a mess—
Honestly, I need to Marie Kondo
the whole house, to find
what to take.

In the midst of war, I would speak up
like that old woman in Bakhmut
who resisted her rescuer’s Let’s go!
with I need to pack grapes, and maybe
some sort of pancakes,
because even an apartment
with no heat in a building blasted
by a bomb pulses like a neutron star

When the Angel of Death arrives
at my door with Lethe-by-IV
for my pain, my brain will obsess—
But I haven’t decided yet
whether to leave my diaries to the kids,
or burn them. And there are dishes
festering in the sink. And we’re going
next week with our best friends
to that new French rest—


Water Grace

Water sluices without stint
over the still lush curls of the woman
home after violent surgery—
over her shoulders,
down her slender back,
and tenderly over the shoulders and back
of the careful daughter
she leans against in the shower.

It pours soft as silk from the cup
over the glistening head of the infant
supported gently in the plastic tub
set in the sink, after weeks
waiting for her to be freed
from the incubator.

And birds of different feathers
meet at communal springs
where they stop puffing their chests
and flicking their tails, to take turns
splashing and shimmying—drops
thrown upward in glittering webs.

What will I do
when I come to the vernal pool
for my own heart’s renewal,
and find it utterly sere—
and no bird sings?



In the dawn chill, in the too-quiet
late afternoon, separation waits.
I will rush from our bed or my desk
to find you first—working the crossword
at the breakfast table, or pulling dandelions
in the yard as the light fails. I will wrap myself
to you close as gauze to heal the inescapable
rift—make us two birds fellable
with one stone.


Judy Kronenfeld’s fifth full-length book of poetry, and seventh collection, 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, Sheila-Na-Gig, Slant, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Verdad, Your Daily Poem, and other journals, and in more than four dozen anthologies. Judy has also published criticism, including King Lear and the Naked Truth (Duke, 1998), short stories, and creative nonfiction. Her eighth collection of poems, a chapbook entitled If Only There Were Stations of the Air, will be published by Sheila-Na-Gig Editions in 2024, and her memoir in essays, Apartness, will be published by Inlandia Books in 2024 or 2025. 
She lives in Riverside, California, with her anthropologist husband. Their two children and four grandchildren live (too!) far away in Maryland.

Return to Offcourse Index.