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Ace Boggess

AceAce 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 fourth poetry collection, I Have Lost the Art of Dreaming It So, is forthcoming from Unsolicited Press. 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.

“Where Do You Go Between Breaths?”

(question asked by Donna Wojcik)

I’ve filled a concert hall with caesural pauses,
waited for applause to move through exhalation
to the next performance. I love the music
of what’s between one state of being & the next.
It keeps me leaning forward,
building crescendos that never seem to come
until they do, & my body releases,
eyes blink away the past like a rotten memory.
Whatever throated a moan before meant nothing:
false idols, other breaths with their magic flush
that paled long ago. I enter this auditorium
where a crowd of sighs demands attention.
I attempt my melody of absence.
On the score, we mark this as a rest.
In the orchestra, the tension builds at last.

“Am I in My Cat’s Dreams?”

(question asked by Laura Long)

We hold the string that foils them,
play cat’s cradle ensnaring their paws

with vanishing shackles of yarn
as red as the dot of a laser pointer.

What chases them racing backward off a cliff
is us. We pick them up, stroke them

whether they consent or not.
We dominate their unconscious

like little gods they can’t escape
as they bolt from us at the base,

encounter us at the summit of the stairs.
They hide in vast, fantastic closets,

but we find them. They try to appease,
proffering mice that dissolve like smoke

before our disgust. If only they dreamt
the sound of an opening can,

a pouch of moist, rattling seabass treats,
they might forgive us.

“Is Everyone in West Virginia Addicted to Fentanyl?”

(question asked by Jeff Santosuosso)

Count those who welcome the pull toward Omega &
happiness of wide-eyed, alien sleep.

Their numbers condescend, ticking off scornful math.
They are many, legion, legendary.

Not all our cousins, aunts & uncles,
children born of desperation have embraced oblivion,

yet many of us have sought to escape our hurt
using whatever drug will dumb the ache of our not-knowing,

our not-having. The various prisons are full of men
whose dreams of a better life broke apart in the bad economy,

death of industry. Misery theory dominates the headlines
as if a modern Jack the Ripper, & there have been bodies.

Our people have a living problem: where we found laughter,
we learn weeping; where we had hope, regret.


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