ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Claire Scott

Neurons on the Loose in the Brain of an Eighty-Year-Old

My neurons are rebelling, tired of talking
only to their neighbors, tired
of the tedious rules of synapses & the endless
dusting of axons & dendrites. But now
impossible to remember my password
or the name of my first born. Rogue neurons
ramble through my foggy brain,                                  
finding new friends, so the name of what
we wear over our PJs is a bathtub. & what we
use to eat Chinese food are chopstones.
the neurons are partying, getting soused
on stray chemicals, wandering wasted
in my cerebrum, looking for the next hot hook up.
downroar, undershoe, birdboard
the funny thing is I don’t care. I am wearing
my bathtub & eating takeout
from Little Chin Chin with chopstones,
& all is wonderlong.


Hedging your Bets

Is there any harm in praying
to a god you don’t believe in
just to cover your bases
like a good insurance policy
or short selling a stock
not only praying
to the gods you grew up with
in temples and churches
but don’t forget
Baal, Odin, Loki and Ganesh
to keep you busy
after retirement
when the kids are gone
and empty voices echo
and days ditto days
and you wake afraid
of the long stretch ahead
the hollow hours
afraid of death sidling up
unnoticed, cells dividing
a semi roaring down a freeway
silent plaque narrowing an artery
so get out the prayer rug
the cushion, the tefillin
the mala beads or rosary
and begin to chant or to pray
or to sing hymns of praise
to the gods you don’t believe in
to fill the morning hours
before lunch and a nap
waking in time for TV
and canned soup and crackers
knowing you might be saved
if there is such a thing as being saved
which you don’t believe



I want to live in an airport
simply take all my stuff and move into an airport
no rent, no mortgage
no property tax, no utility bills, no clocks
no need argue with dandelions or crabgrass
I love watching adrenalized toddlers finally fall
asleep on exhausted parents’ laps
or seeing old ladies with wobbly white heads
still smiling, despite walkers and wheelchairs

And the dudes, oh yes, the dudes, studding up
and down in black tees and leather jackets
checking their reflections in store windows
I love sitting on a plastic chair
with no responsibility
time to read The Washington Post
to find out what I think
time to paint my raggedy nails Pixel Pink
and pretend I am a lady of luxury

I keep my suitcases close by so
they won’t be labeled “unattended”
and “subject to search, seizure and ruination”
I snack on turkey sandwiches and pepperoni pizza
mediocre at best, but no cooking, no dishes
no guilt stepping on a sticky kitchen floor
or seeing mounds of laundry looking reproachful
I wander over to Peets for a vanilla latte
before I return to reading Wild and Wicked

Cheering for Stella who has a habit
of murdering men who wear backward baseball caps
and spend days in bars drinking bargain beer
she heaves their headless bodies over bridges
their wives barely notice
too busy cooking and cleaning and scraping by
perhaps dreaming of airports, like me
but I have plenty of time to enjoy my book
my flight isn’t till next Tuesday.

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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