Wednesday 16 November 2022

Five Poems by Rose Mary Boehm


A Matter of Faith


I remember his black robe,

the spittle glistening in the light

cutting through the stained glass

to the pulpit and the blond hairs on

his fat, white, soft hands.


His voice thundered in the vaulted

church, bouncing back from years of fear

embedded in the stone and plaster.

Not Catholic, but therefore even less forgiving.


The butcher’s wife, a pillar of our small

community, wears a new hat with the pride

that cometh before the fall. One can hope.

Little Linda is wearing a new coat.


My old one is not only worn,

but getting far too small, and so are my shoes.

Altogether, rise: “…and lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.” No way.


Jesus, you do what you do, I’ll do what

I am going to do. I can’t wait to be led into temptation

and don’t think the sinning I have in mind

can be that evil—once I have new clothes.





I sure did wish evil on my math teacher

who singled me out. I admit that algebra

wasn’t my strong point, but I never threw

the water-filled rubber. That was Manfred.

She made me believe I was stupid, almost

forced me into repeating a year.

For a long time I believed she ended up

in a psychiatric ward because of my curses.


There was this kid in school who called me

a filthy refugee. I was as German as he was,

but we’d escaped a war that wasn’t ours—

or so we’d thought. I did throw a stone

and (even though my aim had always been off)

this one drew blood. My teacher showed

everyone that I didn’t belong:

she had me standing in front of the class

for a whole lesson, a paper hanging from my neck



for a giant fist to strike her down.


Does the director of my son’s first school

count? When he cried in the arms of his

new teacher the woman told him to man up.

He was three and a bit.

I remember hoping out loud that she’d get

toad warts on her tongue. We got expelled

immediately and marched out hand-in-hand,

my son looking up at me, his face tear-stained,

his smile making me wish I’d cursed her harder.


When my Greek made our twosome

a crowd, I finally removed myself.

On the plane I muttered:

‘May a black cat run across you when you duck

under a ladder and may your penis hurt

when you make love.’




Queen Louise von Preussen, the Princess Diana of her time, got

married at 17, and died in 1810, age 34. Her legacy became

cemented after her extraordinary 1807 meeting with French Emperor

Napoleon at Tilsit— she met with the emperor to plead

(unsuccessfully) for favourable terms after Prussia's disastrous losses

in the Napoleonic Wars.


They married me off at 17.


I was quite lucky. Father chose well for me.

The perfect dutiful wife.

Queen of Prussia. It could have been worse.

Nine children, and I loved every single one.

Ten, if you count my little ghost girl.

Then the little Corsican conquered half of Europe.

Bonaparte, mon Dieu, I loathed him.

He called me his beautiful enemy

and, still, I was flattered.

Our meeting in Tilsit was not quite what it seemed.

I demeaned myself at his feet.

He laughed, preferred half my country to me.

But I could tell he was tempted.

I pretended it was for Prussia

but, feeling his power, I would have been his whore.



Music under cover of night

--a pantoum


The fiddler in blue gave the slip to

a frog of talent and discernment.

Frog wanted the fiddle,

but not change the tune.


A frog of talent and discernment,

the silver whale and the octopus sang

but did not change the tune.

An angel folded his heavy wings.


The silver whale and the octopus—

now there was a rare friendship.

An angel folded his heavy wings

in the soft light of loving consequences.


Now there was a rare friendship.

The manta ray flew silently overhead.

In the soft light of loving consequences

the dragonfly shimmered and sparkled.


The manta ray flew silently overhead,

marigold floated on blackbird’s melody,

the dragonfly shimmered and sparkled

holding on to spiderwebs during the intervals.


Marigold floated on blackbird’s melody.

All notes burst with an audible sigh

holding on to spiderwebs during the intervals.

Brook burbled. Took over the bandstand.





I wish I could just wish.

I wish I remembered how it was

when I was small. Things were easy

then. Make me good. How much better

could I possibly be? But I did hide

Mum’s best shoes behind the chicken hutch.

Oh God, forgive me my trespasses.

My what? And I did want white

knee socks instead of our daily bread.

Or peace, or things like that.

And now? I’ve learned the difference

between white knee socks

and the Holy Grail.

You listening?

I am asking nicely.



Rose Mary Boehm is a German-born British national living and writing in Lima, Peru, and author of two novels as well as six poetry collections. Her poetry has been published widely in mostly US poetry reviews (online and print). She was twice nominated for a Pushcart. DO OCEANS HAVE UNDERWATER BORDERS? (Kelsay Books July 2022) and WHISTLING IN THE DARK (Taj Mahal Publishing House July 2022), are both available on Amazon.



1 comment:

  1. These are delicious...I lobe that rebellious child and her curses on those so deserving bullies!!


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