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Issue 18

Poetry » Rose Mary Boehm »

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Condors

We could have she says. It’s great
he says. The air is clean here
but so little of it. Maybe that’s
angel air. Great hotel she says.
The canyon’s four thousand meters
deep. She wouldn’t have thought.
And the way the light is swallowed up.
Across the lit side of the rock
passes a giant black shape.
The first bright rays touch the wings.

A beetle crawls on a cactus.
I could be in New York she says.
Things would have… and she
watches her reflection in the
tiny pool until a large shadow
obscures her vision. Did you know
she says condors eat dead meat?

Dreaming of Prometheus

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My legs are stretching
towards the horizon.
My head is huge. I follow

my eyes as they bounce
towards the sea over red sand.
I am growing and begin to fill my
world. Water is rising. Through

my feet into my belly, into my lungs.
My heart on a stick above
the castle walls. I sit below,
watching. The orange sun

is eaten by a huge bird, wing-feathers
pointing fingers. It drops down
fast and swoops towards my heart.

First a stabbing pain and then I’m
ingurgitated. Fused we fly
to meet the man who stole the fire.

Just another day at Sandy Hook

Rabbit pajamas lie crumpled in the corner,
her pillow still smells of honeysuckle.

The box of toys
as always untidy.
What on earth was so important
about order?

Drawings of Dad, Mum, herself and the dog
cover the small desk. She drew herself
with outsize wings.

Dad took her to school that day.
She waved from the back seat,
that smile almost jumping
out of the car to kiss me goodbye.

Resume

I was born to oils on canvas.
Mother was one of the whores of Ferrer-St. Denis,
painter of nineteenth Century Paris nights.
When I fell out of the womb I must have broken.
I am a hunchback. My father,
obsessed with women and paint,
tried to kill me with a palette knife.
My mother fled the studio,
leaving behind the afterbirth and
one shoe.

What regrets I have are not for my untimely
and unseemly birth, but for my genius.
When that knife nicked my baby skin
oil paint and turpentine entered my veins.
There is nothing I can’t paint. I smell the colors
and feel the lines in my belly. I rise in ecstasy
on light and shade, on this daub of red (the life-giver),
or a brilliant white (the lace maker), or a multitude
of greens the origins of which I’ve never seen.

One day my mother forgot me somewhere.
I was picked up by the wife of a mediocre
painter who soon made it to fame
and wealth. Put me to work when I was five.
Art historians everywhere sing his genius.