person Ace Boggess, three poems

Ace Boggess is author of three books of poetry, most recently Ultra Deep Field (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2017), and the novel A Song Without a Melody (Hyperborea Publishing, 2016). His writing has appeared in Harvard Review, Mid-American Review, RATTLE, River Styx, North Dakota Quarterly and many other journals. He lives in Charleston, West Virginia.


“Will I Perform My Role Well in the Last Scene?”

—Mahmoud Darwish, “Mural”

So the author of Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me
got to his feet, earned success— a published book—
then died two days later in a motorcycle wreck.
Beaten by black of night that filled his life, beaten too
by amber arrogance of light beaming its brighter passage,
he couldn’t follow the new road, but revved his motor,
launched toward serendipity & death. So, I’m wondering
what climax, falling action, & denouement’s slammed door
will shift staccato alleys I loiter in, or bars where
my sandaled feet tap-tap their beat beneath my ritual table,
hands gripping a pen or carting coffee to my lips,
eyes observing grizzled men in muscle shirts drink tap beer
from mason jars while white-bloused women talk among themselves.
I watch traffic patterns through the window, cars passing
like little deaths across my line of sight. I breathe stale smoke
that haunts the room like ghosts who never move furniture,
open doors, switch on the lights. An actor reading lines,
I wait each day for a story to rise from sun’s ashes.
I count hours to happiness & death, a Happy Death,
which was the title of the first book written by Camus.
He also died on the road, a wreck, but lived well &
kept an exciting mistress who must have smelled like
jasmine or vanilla, caressed his skin with fingertips soft
as spiderwebs, & with tender eyes watched him play
the tragic role in his theater of “the Absurd.”

(first published in The Aurora Review)


“Is Not That Which Is Loved in Some
State Either of Becoming or Suffering?”

—Socrates in Plato’s Euthyphro

my friends worry they are bad parents
broken in bed
invisible to men
who loved the women they were
in a dream
my friends cannot sing anymore
because of cancer
unhappy marriages
they have not played their drums
since the last millennium
my friends
carry their boyfriends to the creek
from a stone footbridge
throw them in
vicarious as glass pebbles
symbolic gestures
my friends move to faraway cities
wish they were here
or I there
wish the scrapers didn’t reach the sky
wish the moon were brighter
rivers wider locally
my friends are my friends &
can’t know
how I collect their bruises in a jar
map the scars on their psyche
trace a finger
along their slit wrists
awkward tan lines
palest skin beneath their wedding bands

(first published in Blood Orange Review)


“Are You Lonely?”

Lying back on chilly concrete drive
I stare up at the jeweled cloak
seeking a comet that isn’t there.
I count fingers southwest of the moon,
study Capricorn for its extra star, &
surmise I am alone in the universe.
Neighbors don’t come outside
to glance up also or call me Loony.
Cars pass behind my head, so like cars
that always pass me by, the stars.
You ask: are there times I’m defeated by exile,
distant from family, friends, what crowd
surrounds like burnt-out starscape, &
do I ever close my eyes to pretend a connection,
the need so overwhelming? I answer yes,
always have, will always until I’m last on earth,
alien only to myself. Still, forgive
if I look out & up to say I’m lonely there
in dark, a brilliant flash without a constellation,
swear I’m sad with detachment
from the idea of heaven, rather than
dwell on what’s personal, physical, then
vanish, a dazzling or bedazzled specter.

(first published in Quercus Review)


3 thoughts on “person Ace Boggess, three poems

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