ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Rose Mary Boehm

Always the first

She always was the first
to thrust her hand
in the air, ‘I know it, Miss!’
Even if she didn’t. Made
it up real fast. Most of the time
she was right. 

She was the one who first lost
her virginity. Not that the guy
liked her that much, but couldn’t
resist her insistence. We heard
all about it. 

She was the one who sat 
in the first row with her blouse
half undone. The teacher we all coveted
couldn’t see anything else
but her tits.

She was the valedictorian and
only talked about herself. We didn’t
quite understand the choice they’d
made, but I later heard she’d been ‘nice’
to the principal.

It was her I found on my wedding day
with her face between my new husband's
legs. In our new bedroom.
He said there was no way 
he could not.

They found her in one of the city’s
garbage containers. She'd been
hydraulically compacted. There was
not enough left for the police to figure out
how she got there. 


Bartering your Soul for Salvation

If you are bartering your soul
you may be offered

Eleven silver plates
Ten white pigeons
Nine horned bulls
Eight chewing cows
Seven windmills milling
Six dogs a-leaping
Five rabbits running
Four ducks flying
Three wooden branches
Two turtle-doves
One electric candle in the nave.

So you want to save your soul.

Make a list.
What do you want to save if from?
What do you want to save it for?


Black Ice on Christmas Day

He can’t iron a shirt. The cats will go hungry. Hope
I turned off the gas. Left the front door unlocked. The dog
will eat the leftover turkey. The goldfish froze in the pond.
If I live I don’t have a nightie for the hospital. 
Will my children forgive me for spoiling their day?



When my son was still young
and immortal, he wanted to die
to find out what it’s like.

The son of friends jumped
from a railway bridge. 
His parents have never forgiven
him for preferring death.

Once, when I was tired, I sat down
on a bench at midnight, watching
the Atlantic trying to squeeze
in between Scylla and Charybdis,
foaming white with fury.

Yesterday my friend confessed
she wants to live forever,
but looking up that night I saw
an improbable sky, black and
unforgiving. The roaring waves

deafened me to doubt and anger.
I almost couldn’t resist the pull.


Packing my most precious belongings:

The early morning witching hour
blue light squeezing into my sleep,
silence of no sound packed into cotton,
the world ready for the first crunch.

White linen bleached by the sun 
on summer grass, dried in the breeze,
ironed to crispness, giving itself to my body,

my footprints taken by the outgoing tide
each renewal taunting me.

Soft, brand-new skin stretched taut over small limbs,
a white, empty, expectant page,
the first almond blossoms shivering against blue,
a horse chestnut bursting from its spiky pouch,
an effulgent firefly taking off like a tiny Chinese lantern,
my lover’s long lashes tickling my nose.


Rose Mary Boehm is a German-born British national living and working in Lima, Peru. Her poetry has been published widely in mostly US poetry reviews (online and print). Her fourth poetry collection, THE RAIN GIRL, was published by Chaffinch Press at the end August 2020.

Return to Offcourse Index.