Pitaya

Pinky-red or yellow. Not pretty
but unexpected. The man
at the market cuts
through the soft, thick peel
with a sharp knife
and practiced skill. Toma.
He offers me a slice of almost
quivering, succulent flesh.
Juice drips from my hands
down my forearms into my sleeves.

From now on I’ll cut deep
until I lay bare sweetness.

A German-born UK national, Rose Mary Boehm lives and works in Lima, Peru. Author of Tangents, a poetry collection published in the UK in 2010/2011, her work has been widely published in US poetry journals (online and print). She was three times winner of the Goodreads monthly competition, a new poetry collection (From the Ruhr to Somewhere Near Dresden 1939-1949 : A Child’s Journey) has been published by Aldrich Press in May 2016, and a new collection (Peru Blues or Lady Gaga Won’t Be Back) has been published (January 2018) by Kelsay Books.

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May in Finland

We waded through water mixed with dirty ice.
Wet, cold, miserable. It’d been a long winter.
The Baltic had boasted ice floes in April
which should have warned us.

Another melting bog, another soft hill,
soggy moss, rotting trees.
A farmhouse. Door hanging from rusty hinges,
plates and cups left on the table,
years encrusted in earthenware.

The sauna not far. Smooth, round stones still
packed over the fireplace. No chimney,
but holes near the roof. An old ‘smoke sauna’,
Matti said. Heat, smoke, soot, and the smell
of wood. Matti buried his face
between my breasts and breathed deeply.

A German-born UK national, Rose Mary Boehm lives and works in Lima, Peru. Author of Tangents, a poetry collection published in the UK in 2010/2011, her work has been widely published in US poetry journals (online and print). She was three times winner of the Goodreads monthly competition, a new poetry collection (From the Ruhr to Somewhere Near Dresden 1939-1949 : A Child’s Journey) has been published by Aldrich Press in May 2016, and a new collection (Peru Blues or Lady Gaga Won’t Be Back) has been published (January 2018) by Kelsay Books.

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I am full of empty spaces

I found old albums
yesterday—peopled
in black and white by faces
whose names I can’t recall
in buildings which long ago
became spaces. There was
a cemetery once, where my family’s
name was proudly displayed
to confirm their importance.
May their remains rest in peace
in the nearby landfill
the bulldozers left.
Mine are moments
of silent contemplation, the blank
between hurried thought, the freedom
of empty graves
where once I ran through high grasses.

A German-born UK national, Rose Mary Boehm lives and works in Lima, Peru. Author of Tangents, a poetry collection published in the UK in 2010/2011, her work has been widely published in US poetry journals (online and print). She was three times winner of the Goodreads monthly competition, a new poetry collection (From the Ruhr to Somewhere Near Dresden 1939-1949 : A Child’s Journey) has been published by Aldrich Press in May 2016, and a new collection (Peru Blues or Lady Gaga Won’t Be Back) has been published (January 2018) by Kelsay Books.

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Death Mask in Red for Allen Ginsberg: April 5, 1997

Poetry is a stop sign—
            either you get it or you don’t.

            Surprisingly few do.

After all, how many drivers
                        ever really come
            to a complete stop?

This is a reprint of work originally published in Lāhaina Noon.

Eric Paul Shaffer is author of seven books of poetry, including Even Further West, A Million-Dollar Bill, Lāhaina Noon, Portable Planet, and Living at the Monastery, Working in the Kitchen. 500 of his poems have been published in reviews in the USA, Australia, Canada, England, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Scotland, and Wales. He teaches composition, literature, and creative writing at Honolulu Community College.

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I Saw the Muses

            after Leonardo Sinisgalli

Of course, I saw the muses. Didn’t everybody?
Nine bag ladies strung their tents of tarps and stolen
shopping carts in ‘A’ala Park next to the concrete

abstractions of the skateboard rink. They held forth,
as in the old days, beneath the leaves of the banyan
and the monkeypod trees. One tubby lady sheathed

in scarves danced in the dirt, and another recited epics
by heart. One told the fortunes of the past. Two sang,
and another stared at the sky as if the future lay there.

Their songs clung to my shoes like the sticky pods
scumming the sidewalk and the street with hope.

Eric Paul Shaffer is author of seven books of poetry, including Even Further West, A Million-Dollar Bill, Lāhaina Noon, Portable Planet, and Living at the Monastery, Working in the Kitchen. 500 of his poems have been published in reviews in the USA, Australia, Canada, England, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Scotland, and Wales. He teaches composition, literature, and creative writing at Honolulu Community College.

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Starfall: Perseids, ‘Aukake

Night draws me from my house.
I gaze at the sky. A star falls.

My mother, who believed God
fills the sky, once said falling stars
are the only gifts the heavens give.

I remember my mother, gone
now, only as dark and wise.

Astronomers say meteors are rocks
falling from the icy void beyond us,
burning through the air we breathe.

It is an occasion for wishes.

Today is my mother’s birthday. Fire
fills the August sky. A star falls.

The line of light glows for a moment,
and my niece says falling stars
are the candles God blows out.

What does God wish for? My mother
wondered, but she taught the truth
of wishes: one who hides wishes

will never see one come true. A star
falls. An arc of light marks the sky.

My mother knew wishes only

remind us that what we want,
we do not have. She was wise.

A good son reveres the night,
the dark thoughts of his mother,

and the little light of candles
gone in a breath of wishes.

All night, I watch rocks rain
through a sky dark with fire.
I remember her. A star falls.

We barely glimpse the light,
and still, we make wishes.

This is a reprint of work originally published in Lāhaina Noon.

Eric Paul Shaffer is author of seven books of poetry, including Even Further West, A Million-Dollar Bill, Lāhaina Noon, Portable Planet, and Living at the Monastery, Working in the Kitchen. 500 of his poems have been published in reviews in the USA, Australia, Canada, England, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Scotland, and Wales. He teaches composition, literature, and creative writing at Honolulu Community College.

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Without the Cat

the house died with Tiger Lily,
the one            who inhabited

space we merely lived in
she experienced with experiments

how carpet fiber tastes, how books pull
off shelves, how sun moves from sofa to chair

details of every room she measured
coded into her pink paws

we are deaf without mao-mrrow
we sleep without            between us

we occupy an impersonal container
a storage shed with no            surprises

proud arched neck, she would show off
her mice whose turds now desecrate her floor

Sara Backer, an MFA candidate at Vermont College of Fine Arts, has two chapbooks: Bicycle Lotus (Left Fork), which won the Turtle Island Poetry Award, and Scavenger Hunt (Dancing Girl Press). Find her other online publications at http://sarabacker.com/publications.

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