Three Poems by Ace Boggess

By  | September 2, 2014 | 2 Comments | Filed under: Poetry


Three Poems by Ace Boggess


“But What Can You Say to a Woman in Broad Daylight?”

—Yasunari Kawabata, Snow Country

It’s tipping an invisible hat that speaks my endearment,
then sidestepping, courteous as an invitation
to dance while the right song plays.
I note how she cradles a book in her arms,
heavy: less than Being & Nothingness,
but far from The Age of Innocence.
She awaits some electric verse to warm her skin
amidst wintry gray, the gray of sidewalks &
highways: all this stone, all this attempt at permanence
where holes now form. I give her my poetry of silence
like that piece by Hemingway drawn
with punctuation & no words.
Then I have passed her, apple scent trailing in her wake.
I picture the back of her long plum coat,
a black scarf bearing up sands of her hair.
I fear I already said too much.

“Have You Spoken to the Enemy?”

—overheard in a coffee shop

Stop counting how many fingers
you have left & forgive the absent eye.
Murder moves mountains in your heart.
You would be like him? Tormentor?
Chattering prosecutor slamming
cynical briefs on the hardwood desk?
Is it victory or vengeance that seals
your bloody lips against progress? Talk,
talk to the hangman before he slides the knot.
Ask after his children & describe a film you saw:
the one where forgiveness wins in the end &
all become lovers in a world of disintegrating colors.
Say “Good morning” once before missiles rise
from their anxious tubes. It’s not too late,
never too late to reach a deal, to open up debate,
to surround the armory with tulips.



“Who Cares About Such Things When
One Has Found One’s Niche in Life?”

—Louis de Bernières, The War of Don Emmanuel’s Nether Parts

I wonder, for example,
how different my course
if that girl in 1987
(whose name I don’t recall, although I try)
hadn’t stood me up at the Whitesnake concert.
Were she there in the fifth row,
amidst the runoff from fog machines &
shrieking deafness of proximate speakers,
what new cities might have beckoned me, Come?
Imagine the two of us in our damp black tee shirts
as we stood on folding metal chairs,
her straight blond lines whipping back &
forth like a glittery weathervane.
We didn’t refer to that music as hair metal yet,
but shared energy of bodies
stinking of sweat & spilled beer
was what our young brains
described as love. &
where would my bad marriage be?
Lost before it began, not after
so many years preserved
like a head in the cooler? Too,
there might be different jobs &
homes—the better & the not-
so-much. Or, maybe I’m wrong.
Maybe nothing would change
but the memory which,
frozen like a bug in amber,
at least would include her name &,
I tell myself sometimes,
the grapes-&-menthol flavor of her lips.



Ace Boggess is the author of two books of poetry: The Prisoners (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2014) and The Beautiful Girl Whose Wish Was Not Fulfilled (Highwire Press, 2003).  He is an ex-con, ex-husband, ex-reporter and many other exes.  His writing has appeared in Harvard Review, Mid-American Review, Atlanta Review, RATTLE, River Styx, Southern Humanities Review and many other journals.  He lives in Charleston, West Virginia.




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