Ace Boggess is author of four books of poetry, most recently I Have Lost the Art of Dreaming It So (Unsolicited Press, 2018) and Ultra Deep Field (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2017), and two novels, including States of Mercy (Alien Buddha Press, 2019). His writing has appeared in Harvard Review, Mid-American Review, RATTLE, River Styx, North Dakota Quarterly and other journals. He received a fellowship from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts and spent five years in a West Virginia prison. He lives in Charleston, West Virginia
“If I Came in Here Shot, Would
You Say I Had a Lead Problem?”
—John Van Kirk, Song for Chance
I’d say you had an America problem—
wrong place, wrong situation.
I’d say you could use a good drug problem
or never-ending cup of whiskey,
good stuff first, cheapest ever after.
I’d say you’ve sprung a leak,
might need a cork, or rubber cement.
I’d say I can’t stand the sight of blood,
the site of blood, the cited blood.
I’d say have a seat, friend,
while we wait for the wound to pass—
as if any of our pretty eruptions
leave the petty party memory is.
Don’t know bullet holes, but
I have punctured & been jabbed.
I’ve walked face-first into a fist.
Who hasn’t had his nostril opened
like a box-wine tap; eye
purpled, yellowed in the healing;
tasted rust-mouth or the salty underlip?
Don’t come in here shot if you can help it.
If you can’t, I’d say you had
a weakness where stability should be,
especially at your age, even at mine.
I’d say you had an insurance problem.
I’d offer to pick up the check,
but it’s not my turn.