ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Rose Mary Boehm

Brief Encounters

Reality is but an image in my mind
created by my inclinations.
Where your world ends, does mine begin?
What is the neutral ground on which we meet?
Can love make small of our visions or perhaps
it’s just a temporary truce of desperate need,
seeking respite from solitary walks,
lost in a space of our own perceptions
to which no other mortal has the key?

Where my world’s baleful grey and endless
dark melancholy fills cubic miles of empty heart,
you dance in light-filled glorious joy,
your breath brings colours to a shadow world.
A lark in ecstasy, a bird of paradise,
a nightingale that sings of love and tenderness.

You paint my black a darker shade of bright.
My heart is in your hands – a fearful, breathless bird.
The song I never sang for fear of drowning
in tears I never shed no longer stays unsung:
It can’t resist your smiling eyes, your wonder
at my sadness and the hope you bring.
I always wanted wings.

Where my blue and your yellow meet
a bright green has emerged.
Stay for a while.
We may have birthed a magic space,
a summer field that draws its life
from winter’s death and spring’s exuberance.

As autumn’s gold seeps into the greens of summer,
its brilliant colours cheat the mind that knows,
saddens the soul that can’t deny the signs.

Then winter touches gently but with urgency:
My friend, your summer days are done.
Remember what you’ve seen and don’t forget
that seasons come and go.

Goodbye my love. You taught me how to sing.
Although I cannot be a lark, a nightingale,
you gave me voice and words and light
and memory of more than I alone could ever know.

The Prompter in One of London’s Lesser Theatres

Oh dear, she’s about to say the wrong lines again.
I hiss: “Find somebody else …”
Oh, she got it. Uff.

Who on earth put a polka-dot rug beneath that
faux art-nouveau dinner table?
Last night they had one with brown stripes.
Oh shit, how on earth did that cat get in?
The audience snickers.

As the leading lady’s feet walk by my box,
I can’t help getting distracted.
Not in a sexual way.
It’s just that her shoes are a little on the big side
and make that slurping noise,
let her walk appear a little inebriated.
Couldn’t they have found a pair that fitted?
Wardrobe is lacking, I see.

Why does he always forget his lines?
I whisper in my sharpest: “You think you still matter.”
Oh my God, he almost looks down,
What a twit.

Their on-stage marriage is supposed to be on the rocks.
His character drinks too much, and she is a cheat.
Since they are heavily into each other off set,
it’s difficult, I suppose.

There he goes. Finally.
Grab her by the throat. Yes! That’s it!
Now he’s on fire. He almost spits it out:
“You evil, cheating bitch!”
He lets her go.
“God, how I hate you. You have been a fake
from day one!”
I turn the page.
Look at my watch.

He’ll get to knifing her in about ten.
Every night when I hear her scream I know
I’ll just be able to catch the last Tube, sit with the mostly
young, drunk, noisy crowds that spilled from the pubs.
I wipe an invisible speck off my lapel,
adjust my wire-rimmed glasses,
open the ‘Evening Standard’
by the culture pages.
We all travel back to the suburbs.

Smoking is not allowed on the train.
The heavily tattooed kid in the olive green
army surplus jacket inhales deeply
and throws me a look of hatred mixed with disgust.

The Walk

Walking under Jacaranda, every step defies
gravity. The white-blond kid
who wanted to marry me. My brother.

Inside his femurs lies death, no longer
sleeping. Inside his blood
a bitter cocktail.
Three weeks on, four weeks off.

When he was eight, the weight of where
he’d find a wife tormented him.
He held my hand when I learned to walk.

I walked far away, leaving him
to his distresses, the burden
too heavy for me.

His wife slowly bent
under the weight
of anticipated loss.
Today I hold his hand while he walks
smiling toward the front line.


Rose Mary Boehm is a German-born British national living and writing in Lima, Peru, author of two novels as well as eight poetry collections. Her poetry has been published widely, mostly in US poetry reviews (online and print). She was three times nominated for a ‘Pushcart’ and once for ‘Best of Net’. DO OCEANS HAVE UNDERWATER BORDERS? (Kelsay Books July 2022), WHISTLING IN THE DARK (Cyberwit July 2022), and SAUDADE (December 2022) are available on Amazon. Also available on Amazon is a new collection, LIFE STUFF, published by Kelsay Books November 2023.

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