Rose Mary Boehm

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Colonizers of death.
Predacious scavengers
always first to arrive at a crime scene.

Forensic entomologists know when they’ve come,
where they’ve been and
who are their immediate associates.

Time of death determined
by age of grub and development into adulthood.
Coleoptera—from larval stage to adult form.

Bone feeders, skin feeders, story tellers,
human remains an open book.

Before the Storm

The old black artist is dying in his turret in North London
where for over half a century he painted Shostakovich.
The walls have absorbed music fused with acrylics.

I wind wreaths for princes without castles,
those who use paper bags for helmets.

Gods shape universes
from broken shrines.

I lost you because
I wasn’t there.

Would I like my past self?

Where to start? The small kid who ambled through
almost shoulder-high grass to inspect the finer points
of caterpillars perhaps. I’d like her alright.
I’d probably pick her up and try and wipe the
loamy dirt off her face. A tear or two shed for the death
of a fly her mother killed on top of sandwich paper.

There she is, socially awkward, she can’t eat with knife
and fork. Her aunt asks. She tells her, astonished, ‘But, Auntie,
we didn’t have anything to cut.’ It was carrots, potatoes
and water. And a spoon. She puts on her aunt’s lipstick.
Deep red. Thinking if she puts on very little it won’t show.
The boys down by the river are pointing and giggling.
She is ten. And dismayed by rubble and burned out
buildings. I just may understand ‘awkward’.

Drawing, her ‘easel’ the thing on the piano lid that holds
the music. Paintings that are supposed to be expressionist.
She’s 12 for God’s sake. Well, her neighbour upstairs has taken her
under his wings. Teaches her shorthand and chess,
admires her ‘art’. Takes her to an art dealer he knows
in a town about 30 kms from home. A lonely spot
by the river.  Not quite sure how it happened, his limp penis
is in her hand, his semen dripping. I would have held her then.

In his dad’s Mercedes, lighting his cigarettes. ‘Nil’, flat
oval jobs without filter. Oriental tobacco. 17 going onto 35.
Werner is 21 and into stuff. He injects himself with a heart
drug. Experimenting. Would have liked to become a doctor.
Quotes Gottfried Benn. She loves him so much. He has dimples
on the side of his mouth. There is this night. His parents
are out. She beats him off and the pain he causes.
Won’t show his face to his friends for weeks.
She walks home, bleeding. Crying with her whole body.
I would have held her close and told her that time would heal.
Isn’t this what they say? Isn’t it true?


Rose Mary Boehm, a German-born British national, lives and works in Lima Peru. Widely published in mostly US poetry journals (online and print), her fourth poetry collection, The Rain Girl, has just been published by Chaffinch Press.