ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Five Poems by Matthew DeLuca

Malachy I

Malachy inhaled through his right nostril,
and the nosehairs of his paternal grandfather tickled.

Malachy inhaled through his left nostril,
and the nosehairs of his maternal grandfather tickled.

The coming and going of the seasons gives one
impressions of the whisperings of near or absent gods.

Espresso in the morning evokes all the vegetable effort
            of the world.
The body heals with a restful evening’s cool release.

Twelve nights came and went, Malachy. Your grandfathers,
too, considered these among life’s more worthwhile moments.


Malachy II

Malachy knocked the dirt off his shoes,
observing how doing so had never once
brought him liberation before.

His thinking derived two laws from life:
            firstly, one may do whatever one wants;
                        while, secondly, something always happens next.

He thought these rules had the smell of lilacs,
            or some other measure of freshness,
                        and held them to his heart.

The first was simply descriptive, which
            anyone could see; the second was,
                        with the first, the whole of ethics.

Extrapolating, he went out into the world,
            with a nose keen for the scent of lilacs.


Boudleaux and Adelaide

Boudleaux and Adelaide rinsed their dishes
in the flirty springwater.

Lilith passed. The clean lines of her
face and combed wash of her hair swept down.

Boudleaux might not have noticed. He might have
been a sherbet-toothed pasha slouched among his women.

He might not have known. Or he might gold-slippered
swink along purple hallways fresh with silks.

Adelaide might not have noticed. Her nose perked with perfumes
of frankincense and she laughed a knowledge-worn laugh.

The Bible says: So it's gone e'er Adam and Eve
subsumed us all in their pomaceous racket.


Of Terminus

Of all the ancient weary gods,
Terminus is among the slimmest,
the least noted, the most scarcely chronicled.
Which only makes sense,
he after all being the god of twilight,
which no one can find except lovers,
and the god of stolen moments,
also the privilege of modest dreamers.

So slim and so slight of a god,
without a place in battle or in romance,
one nearly suspects he never was at all.



Sparse twists of light from slanted cigarillos rise
while hatted gentlefolk on burlesque risers imbibe
Fellow American words as they sink silver-poignant
through a needled mist.

Descend the many levels down then the club at Lilyfawn’s –
’neath slanted ceilings gold arched shimmer-wide –
to engage scoffers in the jolliest rogering, cannabis laughter
vitamined by lemonade, mango slices and squelched avocado.
Squillions of prawn-faced khaki youngmen copacetic and cool watch
lithesome ladies pass, to spare grimtimes and groan.

Spree the instinct then slips free of mind:
the senses mugged by tales of a thousand lays,
and glee of bold America, gospel forthwith lifts in snifters full --
higher still the prophets clamber onto tablecloths and spread
scotched shofar throats and bleat to old Shaddai.


The madras humor of the day quick-sewn
uncurls the windowglass of Lilyfawn’s,
wherein two goodfolk swell lipstuck past dawn.
See stagger out – mangy, stingy, dull – Fate and all that cock-eyed crew.

Cast out, they squeak malarkey shrill of kaftaned curs and keffiyehs,
bandanaed horsemen sipping cola with shades of moresques
and turqueries and the high-flung lairs of assassins.
Guapos – believe you me – their unbuttoned and often rolled shirtsleeves;
their talk squeezed forth beneath a narcomanta’s sneer.

Yet from Lilyfawn’s some coo, some cheer.


Matthew DeLuca is a poet who lives in New York. He is a graduate of Boston College and Fordham University School of Law.

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