Ace Boggess

Glad to See You’re Doing Well

Your house, your cats—the one
with shaved punk head from chemo—
your books of spells,
your fantasies you haven’t read.

Your house, your half-stitched quilts,
your couch so soft to sink into it
feels like narcotic drift.

Your house, your memories,
your past unsafe like mine
you circle before diving in.

Your house, your bedroom
a revision of America
as seen on 50s’ black-&-white TV.

Your house I enter timidly
after years misplaced
like a favorite childhood toy
appearing with junk in an attic box.

Your house, this moment,
a tenderness, a god
of unexpected blessings.

“What Do You Think About When You Swim?”

                                               (question asked by Grace Welch)

The day has been full
of shortcomings &
shorter goings.
Words returned to me
read but unwanted.
Someone I love
drove nails into
the softest wood
using only a tongue
for a hammer.
Idiots marched
across my TV screen,
unmasked & mean,
their mouths spewing
spit & noxious breath.
Each lap leaves
a little more behind,
falling away like hair
or dust. On better days,
my head sinks
below the surface
of possibility.
What successes
I anticipate,
entanglements.
Am I swimming
away from something
or toward it?
I escape &
advance at once,
seeking a place
of such repose,
hypothetical quantum
superposition,
that when my time
is up, I leave &
do not leave
existence, water,
hope for absolution.

Wrote a Love Poem for You

I wrote a love poem for Thursday & December.

I wrote a love poem for the last sip of water
          in the filter box.

I wrote a love poem for mercy & how it tickles
          underskin & smells of bleach.

I wrote a love poem for a condo in Florida
          on some nowhere beach, dead palmetto bugs
          belly-up—post-apocalyptic cemetery.

I wrote a love poem for the last sip of hope,
          good vibes, niceties, & kindness
          in the filter box.

I wrote a love poem for yesterday, aware
          a priori tomorrow will force me
          to rage against its awfulness.

I wrote a love poem for small white sweaters
          worn on a chilly evening.

I wrote a love poem for ink you had to buy
          before you’d read my letters.

I wrote a love poem for the last sip of love poems
          in the filter box.

I wrote a love poem for the filter box—
          I filled it up, put its fires on ice,
          offered you its ashes in a cup.


Ace Boggess is author of six books of poetry, including Escape Envy (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2021), I Have Lost the Art of Dreaming It So, and The Prisoners. His writing has appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, Notre Dame Review, Harvard Review, Mid-American Review, and other journals. An ex-con, he lives in Charleston, West Virginia, where he writes and tries to stay out of trouble.

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