ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Rose Mary Boehm

ignis fatuus - or of betrayal

Graveyard phenomena, ghost candles
hover over bodies, elf fire hogging
your attention, murderous little folk leading
the unwary over bogs and marshes, travelers
follow the flickering lamp to the night of the black.

Friars’ lanterns, hinkypunk fairies, the spirits
of the stillborn. Unborn. Still between heaven
and hell so say the priests, pointing with bony fingers
away from the truth. Ghosts of those who died.

Etiological folk tales tell of the haunters
of the marshes, lighting the way, inviting
to the killing grounds.

Will's (the blacksmith) single burning coal,
Jack's (the drunkard) place in hell. Denied
by the devil himself, but the embers
of the hell fires light his way in the twilight world.

Buried treasure, magical tricks, dead man’s hands.
Mark the location with a light in the early
autumn, the dark nights of the north.
Railroad tracks. St. John’s day, place and time.
PĂșca. Extinguish the flame.

Announcing the departure of souls. Chasms,
roaring torrents of water. Weisse Frauen blow
out the light. Two royal children drown in the deep
waters. Lambent light. Trust not in dazzle.


On Hillbilly Heroin

Faded, red baseball cap, stiff with dirt. Grimy
seersucker jacket and a greenish scarf.
Pants that once must have belonged
to a shorter boy. Or girl.
Sleeves of the jacket not long enough
to cover bluish wrists, large hands
rummaging through the dumpster.
Perhaps 34 degrees or so. Suddenly,
as though an invisible hand
has knocked him backwards, he stops
his feverish search, looks up
at the wall ahead. No graffiti, but--
already peeling--a museum poster
of a smiling cherub.

Once he’d been in a museum with his mom.
Must have been his mom.
Wasn't that long ago. Or was it?
The man-boy scratches his knotted hair
under the cap, slowly returns and focuses
on the picture on the crumbling
wall. He stares as though he might find
a long-lost moment, if only he could
keep hold of it. Wasn’t hurting then,
wasn’t craving. Was just a kid with a mom.
Where the hell did she get to?
Things. They’re tearing
at me. Tearing. Making me disappear,
like picking off a scab.
Will I be pink underneath?

A German-born UK national, Rose Mary Boehm lives and works in Lima, Peru. Author of two novels and ‘Tangents’, a full-length poetry collection published in the UK in 2010/2011, her work has been widely published in US poetry journals (online and print). She was three times winner of the now defunct Goodreads monthly competition, has twice been nominated for a Pushcart. Recent poetry collections: ‘From the Ruhr to Somewhere Near Dresden 1939-1949: A Child’s Journey’ and ‘Peru Blues or Lady Gaga Won’t Be Back’. Her latest full-length poetry MS, ‘The Rain Girl’, has been published by Chaffinch Press in August 2020.

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