Tuesday 5 April 2022

Five Poems by Rose Mary Boehm


A Question of Belonging


Where are you from? they ask,

and I can’t tell. The more urgent

their enquiry, the less

I understand the question.


My mind contemplates

geographies and deeper places

excavated by fear, love, desires,

and the grand fugue.


I pulled in my roots a lifetime ago

and now hang suspended in mid-air,

needing nothing more than

an affable welcome.






Big, thin, fat, short, tall, frail, strong,

incomplete—vulnerable to destruction

from the inside out,

from the outside in.

Vehicle of consciousness, loved and hated

receiving the rejection of thoughtless comparison,

or the velvet glove of exaggerated self-love.

Bodies, the packaging that sometimes

splits right open.



My body. I once lost it. Melted right into

the warm and conscious stone on a Finnish island

in the summer of 1957. I remember lichen,

stone caresses, and the lightness of being.



Driving back from Prague



Monsters used to live in me,

behind pillars, planning

ambushes in every dark corner.



We drive through Eastern Europe's

endless woods, where fables breed,

and Hänsel and Gretel wander still.


Wolves. Bears. The car devours

black asphalt. In the headlights

grey motes, the windscreen

fills with small cadavers.


No yellow lines.

No street lights.


The blackness blackens.

The trees close in.


Orange lights.

Military men.

The border post.



I remember another border,

another night, when safety catches clicked

in quick succession.



The bleak monster is a little man

in a greatcoat, collar up.

He wields

a red stamp.






Wailers and howlers

wolves and hyenas.

A place of rest for the screech owl.


Lilith flies by night.


Shaggy beasts take up their abode

in the powerful realm.


And the satyr shall cry to its fellow,

half goat and half man,

and Rome shall fall.


Her nobles shall be no more,

nor shall kings be proclaimed there,

all her princes are gone. Her castles

shall be overgrown with thorns,

her fortresses with thistles and briers.



Letter to my best friend

Paris, 1958


My first week in Paris. Damn it,

my French stayed behind somewhere

between college and Walburg, Hesselberger

& Frankenveldt. At least

I remembered how to call the porter

when I got off the Express from Düsseldorf

at seven in the morning.


Wonder whether Mum’s got over the shock

that I'd prefer this cauldron of sin

over a secure typing job

at the local lawyers. She’s like a chicken

that’s hatched a duck’s egg:

hysterically running up and down

the lake shore watching the chick swim.


In the Gare St. Lazare, where I have to take

the train to the Banlieue (the suburbs

for you and me) this pretty Arab boy

was trying to chat me up.

Here I am, Elfriede from Werter Street,

crossing Pont Neuf, looking up at Notre Dame,

walking around Place de la Concorde,

sitting in Les Deux Magots.

If they could see me now.


Went to the movies. One of the double

bill was ‘Cat on the Hot Tin Roof’ in English.

French subtitles. Since I didn’t understand

a word I made up the dialogue.

Elizabeth Taylor was gorgeous, as always.

Paul Newman angry most of the time

or sulking. He probably said to her:

‘You piss me off no end’. And she:

‘Get rid of that stick and I show you.’


Somebody tried to sell

La Tour Eiffel. I have nobody

to talk to, mon Dieu.

But I’m breathing the same air –

give or take a few car exhausts –

as Talleyrand, Cardinal Richelieux

and Les Trois Mousquetaires.

On the Champs Elisées

I passed some handsome flics

who whistled when I went by.

Mother wrote. She’s coming Monday

to take me home.

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, will be published by Kelsay Books in July 2022. https://www.rose-mary-boehm-poet.com/



  1. Just lovely, Rose. Truly lovely.

  2. Love your pages. Backgrounds, you, your "Five Poems by Rose Mary Boehm"... recall my arrival in Paris, talking not a word of French. And the most famous question "Where are you from".


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