ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Massimo Fantuzzi

Trench, Ragged Hands

Ev’n from the tomb the voice of Nature cries,
Ev’n in our ashes live their wonted fires.
(Thomas Gray, Elegy written in a country churchyard)

Sundown, I’m telling you, you can almost grasp
the curvature we walk on –
a shroud, a warp dug
of jasmine. Nurse it.

Thinning lines, the days
dawdle in pasty drooling, the old
curtseying, ruffled collar, return in a portrait
whose edgy aftertaste is one of epitaph.

Come, your old house, sunlit at this hour
of armistice, and at all other hours;
breathe, past the mechanics of breath,
touch, bounce, hear, bear me
for a little longer.
Your mother’s balcony
of basil and cat litter: smudged is
the view back to the waxy morning
of our leave, baggage free,
and harboured reasons
past orders and control.

Decades down, to retrace
the same wrought Liberty iron,
the same rust, twist and twitches
lace rapt and conned
the best liveries
ragged hands on the last sandbags.


Fragments of Postcards Fell

Here I am in Borghetto Santo Spirito Beach! There are a few more people than in May, but loneliness is a constant, who knows why? E.
THE BEACH. Laments, endangered relics to soothe,
hush in balm, yolks and twirls,
this local man shuffles his crafts of crumbs and
remembrance around. Little parcel,
wobbles the nectar flask hanging from his belt.

My footing wrongs the damp satin grass; in agreement, ventriloquists, aerialists, and fire eaters in late departure. How much hope for this late circus gearing up for its grand tour down the Mariana Trench. M.
THE TOUR. Last barren toil of quickstep well
suits the season’s closing ploy.
Having crept the antipodes, stirred and shook
the bottomless line of long-faded reveries, I say
my corked crawling days would better keep out of sight
and understated.


Jeux d’Eau
Death in Cinque Terre

Fuor del mar ho un mar in seno

Slipped on a mermaid’s tail, it happens
to revisit
devotion of a far-out travelled tide.

Another schedule paws my chin to its rest.
In its lustrous hiatus, this train sits me back
in the anecdote of the chocolate blancmange,
your way of teaching me the most important lesson.
The day set to transfix its talents into us,
warm aroma of bakeries, benign sovereigns,
bitter rocks sweltered and shot. Dauntless beams,
pulsating lizards in their emerald liquid sheen
in and out of the stone wall – reptilian plots,
unblinking fissures paving the town around
adorned your ankles, your inked toes their suntrap.

Raw spirit. How are these brittle cliffs supposed to hold us? E.

Rest my lung, away with you
our giggles crush in the sprays below. Quick
Ligurian beach, Cinque Terre, cap in hand
I follow the deception of the stilled point,
sole subsistence of young fingers
playing hair and strings in the Libeccio.
Two marble columns,
a lifetime,
one severed,
the curled shrubs woefully name
and climb what we once named ours.



Dangling feet, two cherubs sat on their stucco hands
corralling a whirring breath over freckles and
birthmarks, innards from their unmoving colonnade,
«Widening sways are the fissures in the starry
chain, a sniffle withering on a Laguna on stilts.»
«Winter’s whisper is an unruly vine reaching
icy and astray, wetting grips worn and pale.»

Whose anguish, whose rush, Lion
of San Marco flags the Serenissima
flotilla, reading heart thrashing wing
the cracks in the City’s gold mantle
now cravingly torn and pecked,
«I navigate your sail between banks
of sunset, sides of cotton lace and
blown glass. Lavender from shallow
roots, a rockery each burial, pardon, story.»

Silk Road, the pilgrim moon will continue
to survey lanterns with sluggish discern. Each a sale,
a brew, a bay, an oblivious spin around the Eternal.
Haggled, fixed or pawned, a ferment of wonder.
Terra incognita spits from the privy,
all wilts and wistful moves.
«How long to our reaping, Mother of the Grand Canal?»
«Stop pestering me, it’s not time!»


Massimo Fantuzzi is a British-Italian dual national born in Milan, author of the collection of poems and prose poems Marcia Gioie (Alkalea, 1999). He lives in Leicestershire, where he works in special education. Member of the editorial board at Triggerfish Critical Review, his poems have appeared in Orbis, The North, Tears in the Fence, The Honest Ulsterman, Abridged, Poetry Salzburg Review, Berkeley Poetry Review, BlazeVox, Bombay Gin, The Dalhousie Review, Alba, Maintenant, In Parentheses, E·ratio, Otoliths, Il Cucchiaio nell’Orecchio, Multiperso, Fiori del Caos, and elsewhere.

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