Offcourse Literary Journal

Three Sonnets, by Ken Denberg.


Memory Grinds Things Up

Was a long time ago, I a pup, was
you in my arms in the greeny high grass
of the  big summer orchard, grasshoppers
were thick and flying, opaque then brown
skeletal, snow-like and heavy in the field.
Who could fault the farmer, his heavy cows
the milky sighing, just then as it was
a bright moon in your eyes, the same season
the draw and whip of clouds. Churning, whirlwind
then butter, boil water and thin down
to bones of memory, it was sunset
all the long day home, the cool night and Mars.
It was late somehow, as if it happened
and it had, the field yielding to twilight.

Knowledge of Flight

At first I was stunned by the up-early
morning, its full red beard of clouds swept clear
from the sky, the bright room, the elusive dream
too dim to catch its meaning, the green empty
walls were full of us and my politics
absent and ridiculous when compared
to the whiteness of your face, then your shape
then not. Was up all night considering
the portrait I made before all hell broke
loose, then flying over cities, fields, hills
unable or unwilling to be in
one place at once, wondered if you knew
then, if you know, I was in love with you.
Take wing, took off, flap those dark feathers, flown.


Kiss Me

It is raining the tears of a million sins
so we ask forgiveness, it will never
happen again and going on, thinner
purged, a bit purer or guiltless, remorse
a thing of the past no matter what we
did, but the gray rain, the tall white buildings
impersonal drifts of snow along the streets
the hellos or goodbyes, shutting the doors
or opening them to the cold shoulder
of the world, this cascade, this gentle wave
of a hand, it's nothing, doesn't matter
anxiety only momentary
and hopelessness of our desire
that temporary thing we gently kiss.


Ken Denberg's poems appeared in Offcourse Issue #13 and on Issue #9. His poems have recently appeared in Poems & Plays and The Comstock Review. He is the editor of the Snail's Pace Press. Please write to him at




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