ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Rose Mary Boehm

Where was I?

How sharp I used to be. Focused.
Still smiling when I remember a French friend
pronouncing this his way. Not a dry eye in the house.

I’d be able to juggle five balls in the air without
losing even one. Kids, school run, piano classes,
spread sheet, changing the logo (not much, please,
the CEO wouldn’t go for it), lunch for four family members—
three of whom were now vegetarians—shopping
for the week, calling the repair man,
washing a couple of loads, hanging up the washing
in the garden to Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, the myna bird
disrespectfully croaking ‘bad girl’. Wherever did the bird
pick that up? Must be the neighbours.

Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes. Today.
Without my agenda I won’t remember
the ZOOM meeting at 7.00. Pacific time.
Don’t forget to Google Lima time.
Where do I find that link? Blow me a kiss,
smile, remind me of the mask,
ask me the time, take my hand…


When you become conscious of the fact that you’re obsolete

He’s in the shower with his tablet, with his Spotify,
with his collection of music. From the slightly open-door spills
light and Mstislav Rostropovich. Yessss.

Once it was the Carmina Burana on the way to the Duratón.
What? Where? A green river in Spain, near Sepulveda,
the car winding its way up, up, up and around pine trees
whose tops we still hadn’t reached. Light, dark, light, dark.
No oncoming traffic.

I had a collection. The tapes worn, the music
getting crooked. Suitcases full of eclectic wobbles.
When they were being picked up for the trash,
my heart rent.
Nothing you don’t find on YouTube or Spotify, of course.
But my YouTube collection on neat, white shelves?

All my LPs, even the original George Harrison
Concert for Bangladesh is now with my son. At least
he is as nuts as I am.

I am giving away, shredding, wondering. Who
would possibly understand those extremely
good jokes I once printed out and now keep in a box?



Is it an ‘it’? A ‘he’, a ‘she’ or a ‘they’? I’d like to think
of the little fellow as a he, moving slowly
to a tune only he can hear. Roomba!

Under the table, around the chair legs,
change direction at the built-in drinks cabinet.
Roomba! Here we go. The end of dust
and the carcasses of cucarachas.
Crunch, crunch. Roomba!

He gets a bit stuck at the threshold between
living room and kitchen, but not for long.
Roomba, up he goes, moving just so.
Do I see a little wiggle in that roundness?

A hearty meal under the kitchen island,
crumbs, bits of peel and some dried egg.
A feast indeed. Sweep. Suck. Move. Inhale.

Once upon a time that word would unleash
the fire inside. Legs stepping, hips moving
just so, the little Latin combo playing
for the last time on the terrace by the hotel pool.
Did I have a flower in my hair?
The last days of a melting Mediterranean summer.
We said we’d stay in touch.


Esperanza en la Noche

    for Frida Kahlo

At night she is free. There is hope. The pain at bay.
Maldito dolor. The broken pieces barely joined
at daybreak. She feels as though dropped like a porcelain figurine
from a great height. Broken spine, broken collarbone, broken ribs,
broken pelvis, crushed right foot, shoulder out of joint.
Hospitals, operation theatres, soothing Seconal.
Count backwards now. Slowly. From 100.

The night, la noche, in the arms of morphine. Daytime,
stupor of alcohol. Addiction a word so easily pronounced.
Chronic pain eats your brain, hollows your life, saps your
will. And she must paint. Pintar su sufrimiento,
pintar su frustración. The doctors knew and tried.
She had to cry out. Paint her pain.

The Tree of Hope, her secret refuge, got smaller
and insignificant. Only the drugs gave her alas, wings. By day
a broken body, by night as regal as she was meant to be.
Should she have offered her art at the altar of pain?


Rose Mary Boehm is a German-born British national living and writing in Lima, Peru. Her poetry has been published widely in mostly US poetry reviews (online and print). She was twice nominated for a Pushcart. Her fifth poetry collection, DO OCEANS HAVE UNDERWATER BORDERS, has just been snapped up by Kelsay Books for publication May/June 2022. Her website:

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