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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 23: 28 April 2024
Poem: 210 words
By Rose Mary Boehm

Magic Names, or All That We’re About to Lose

When I hear Caucasus I think wild horses, 
wild riders, Cossacks, stamping boots, 
topknots. Mongols brings Djinghis Khan, 
Mughal Empire, Steppes—wind-swept, 
bent once-tall grasses, shaved 
by sandstorms. Sahara—dunes, camel dung, 
long shadows, oasis, thirst, skeletons. 
Soukh, Medina conjure the blue men, 
traders stopping your progress, “Carpets, 
Madame, have tea with us...”

Patagonia is endless landscapes, ice-capped 
mountains, whales, and sudden tapestries 
of pink blossoms, cold rivers, rough ridges, 
cottages and sheep. Buenos Aires, 
the southern pearl, Frencher than Paris, 
either harlot or raped virgin. 
Asunción, witchcraft in the middle 
of the world; Rio Grande, where 
people are shot without reason, 
Manaus where the cayman 
will get you. 

Drug wars in Tijuana, cowboys 
in Montana, the dustbowl of Saskatchewan, 
wilderness in the Northwest Territories, 
Alaska. Huskies, miles of white...
Attaboy! Permafrost under the tundras of Siberia, 
the disappearing Aral Sea, the stony 
Gobi Desert. Hermitage. St Petersburg. 

I squint at tiny, unpronounceable place names, 
turn pages, and hover with my finger over maps 
and pictures. Borneo, Israel, Ayer’s Rock, 
tuk-tuk dancers, Eskimos, Reijkjavik, 
Qin Terracotta Warriors...

Each name a conjuring trick, 
a wind whispering words, 
making more associations, spreading lies, 
until I forget that wherever I go, 
I’ll take myself. 

Rose Mary Boehm
Issue 23 (April 2024)

is a German-born British national living and writing in Lima, Peru, and the author of two novels as well as eight poetry collections. Her poetry has been published widely in mostly US poetry reviews (online and print), and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Her most recent collections are available on Amazon: Life Stuff (Kelsay Books, 2024), Do Oceans Have Underwater Borders? (Kelsay Books, July 2022), Whistling in the Dark (Cyberwit, July 2022), and Saudade (Kelsay Books, November 2022).

Author’s website: https://www.rose-mary-boehm-poet.com/

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