Featured Poet Rose Mary Boehm

6

A Man Has His Needs

 

There was a time when all I saw was your face

contorted with frustration, smelled your breath stinking

of cheap rum. Every night you passed through the hells

of the cantinas. ‘Making space’ was the word

for vomiting in situ. More rum, guapa, come,

 

let me feel you. The kids were too little

to know anything else, but they both stood

in front of me when you fell into the house.

You knew what you were looking for, brushed

them aside like annoying insects wiped off a sleeve.

 

I can’t help but feel some relief, and I visit

you only this one time to make sure they locked

you up for good. At least you killed her first.

 

 

Aunt Martha’s Adornments

 

She hobbles to her place at the table

squinting to read the names

on those large gold-rimmed plates,

too vain to pull out her glasses.

She was invited for old time’s sake.

 

A big brooch on her lapel leads the eye

away from her wrinkled neck, her long earlobes

pulled down by gold. Dramatic rings

emphasize knuckles and thick veins.

You don’t see the liver spots

when the rubies are real.

 

A choker with an ivory pendant

moves up and down when she swallows,

hardly able to chew her meat. Hair curls

over a neck which was once kissed in the nape.

 

She remembers young, smooth skin

on round forearms, bracelets tinkling,

silver rings on delicate fingers,

a turquoise pendant leading the eye

to her rounded breasts, rhinestones

shimmering in the candle light.

 

How could she have arrived here from there—

it seemed only yesterday when he pretended

to strangle her with her Indian silver chain.

 

 

Early Dawn

 

At this hour the world is dark and empty.

Her toes don’t have to touch the cold stone floor

to understand the value of a warm bed.

She doesn’t have to lift the curtain to confirm

the green mix of pale-yellow street lanps

and the first blue morning glow. She turns

over, reaches across for his body and her

hand finds no purchase. She buries her face

in his pillow, takes a deep breath and remembers

his bent back, coat collar up against the wind.

 

 

Madelaine

 

Madelaine used to scream

her orgasms. Summer-night windows,

blue beat from next-door’s deck.

 

Humid gardens.

Deadly nightshade.

Poison ivy.

 

Lustful Madelaine,

you and your lover

made beautiful music.

 

Let it be, let it be.

The cat slinks

through the hedges.

 

 

The girl without a head scarf

 

Amira left home.

Dumped her headscarf

somewhere between

Tangiers and Marseille.

 

Marcel strutted.

Frigid Arab bitch,

he hissed to her denial.

Whispered secrets into her skin.

 

Amira had become voiceless,

adrift at a great distance from herself.

 

When he buried his need

deep inside her

in that room-by-the-hour,

no salvation was offered,

and none taken.

He stared at her with malice.

Amira exhaled

and remained empty.

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