ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Louis Phillips


Having lived a long time,
Never investigated
History of paper

& missed by a New York Minute
"The International Conference
on the History & Study
of Watermarks,  held on
October 10-13th, 1996
at the Hotel Roanoke in Virginia,

Where Celia D. Fryer
Presented her paper on
"Spanish and Italian Watermarks
In Guatemalan Books."

Pick a subject, any subject:
Always someone
Who knows more about it
Than I know about anything.

I hadn't even thought 
Of watermarks until this morning.
Now that I think about it:
What is Guatemala?


In matter of minutes
My world is viewed
Upside down,
Or from outer space.

I have never been
With astronauts
Shivering at edges
Of somebody's moon,

But, (shift in perspective:
tho I cannot not tell
A nightingale
From a pastrami sandwich)

I recognize in Mr.Keats
Seated near a fruit tree wild,
A quickening of unbalance,
then feeling, smelling

Incense from the boughs.
Embalmed in  sudden music:
Where Beauty cannot keep
her lustrous eyes...,



How quickly
It is possible to exchange
One reality for another.

I set down my book,
& for several lifetimes
I become numb
With desire.



You don't believe me,
Do you?

What will it take
To get you




Shouldn't  souls of others
Stir us to action?
Remember Gary Cooper
Walking thru High Noon?
Am I like him? Are you?

12 yrs old,  
Waiting for my parents
To get off from selling clothes,
I paid 25¢ to see
A cowboy movie.
Missing the politics
Of Do not forsake me,
Oh my darling...
In 1950s slang,
Blew me away.

Who was I then,
Sitting by myself,
All alone in the dark,
Am I a coward,
A craven coward...
Waiting for my parents
To drive me home?

Who are you? the Caterpillar,
As played by Ned Sparks,
In a much older movie,
Asks a very polite Alice.
Did Gary Cooper & Sparks
Become what we see
On the large silver screen?

Caterpillars become butterflies,
Sparks become fires.
Whom do we become
When we turn our attentions to,
Let us say, Handel,
His Concerto No. II in B-Flat Major,
With its fourth movement
In 3/8ths time.

Must I lie on a couch to ask,
"What does all this
Lost knowledge
With ripped pockets
Have to do with me?”
O myself, myself,
Do not forsake me,
O my darling.


Louis Phillips latest book— CERTAINE SMALL POEMS — will be published next month by World Audience Books. His blog, on a wide variety of subjects, can be accessed at


Return to Offcourse Index.