Friday 6 January 2023

Five Poems by Ace Boggess



All That Is Offered, I Embrace


When the man from another state

emails, I’ll be in your area soon,

have a hotel, let’s meet up,

I answer, Sure, sure; I will never

hear from him again. When

the woman a few blocks away

texts, Let’s swap nudes, or love letters,

or philosophies of nothing & the moon,

I agree: she will have forgotten my name

before the message ends. When

the grey dog follows me home,

it is to find the missing warmth

of a fresh lawn before moving on.

I’m embarrassed by the measure

of options. Why is it all so genuine?

When, lovely as an oil-slick portrait,

the raven I fed buns last week

returns to bring its quid pro quo,

it will be a ransom note

or bottle with a message in it:

I don’t know where I am.

When the couple I’ve barely met

reads one of my books together,

each accuses the other

of being my lover, antagonist,

muse for a clever turn of phrase.

Neither speaks to me anymore.

I’m left alone with my thoughts:

they disappoint me, too,

tell me I’m a loser & a god.



Street Sweeper


pulls down the cul-de-sac after a short, warm rain,

does figure-eights at ten miles per hour,

leaving crop circles on blacktop.


Watch the vehicle spin like a slow-mo semi

ready to jack-knife, except the footage won’t speed up.

This is real-time, a happening.


I picture the driver yucking it up,

drunk or reliving his glory days

behind the wheel of a Camaro,


shouting Damn, that’s good!

as the big machine turns & turns before

beginning the turtle crawl back the way it came.


I almost wave goodbye to the orange triangle

that warns of danger if somebody gets too close

to a man engaged in enjoyment of his work.



Best Advice


Sometimes I take my own advice &

open to encounters, visions,

styles of music, strangers.


Sometimes I take my own advice &

leave, my eyes halogen lamps

probing the lengthy empty highway dark.


Sometimes I take my own advice &

try to be normal, try to fit in

though I’m a cat in the rabbit warren.


Most of the time I ignore the words

I’ve given to those who’ve asked for them.

I’m foolish & reckless, spendthrift & shifty.


The best advice comes from experience,

which I need more of before the city

shuts down again, before the sun burns out.


A Good Lover Knows How to Sing


Meant to spend the day licking, sucking,

hopping around in the clumsy dirigible

of my body, but got distracted on the internet’s


live music archive, a rabbit hole of concerts

by bands I had forgotten: Def Leppard in ’87,

the year I saw them while an awkward teen


who never kissed a girl or guy; Nirvana

in the early 90s before I was into grunge;

The Jayhawks last year when doors were opening &


the Delta variant had yet to spoil our autumn plans;

Bob Weir from the Grateful Dead two nights ago,

still jamming & more soulful than ever.


I lost track of time & wild escapes I planned &

lost myself in music, what I always do.

Its touch knows me better than a lover’s—


soothing, it entices, turning me on

when I turn it on, biting my ear a little,

though at my age, sometimes my ear


can’t get it up. That doesn’t stop me

from trying, paying attention to every

breath, note, riff, & quickening beat.


Neruda for You


Nest against me, little grouse,

as if in shadows of a hollow tree.

I’ll surround you with lovegrass,

vines, & ivy, hidden from a hunter’s scope.


You’ve been through panic of the re-

awakening city, discarded hope

by unclean fountains &

at the bottom of marble stairs.


Allow me to quiet your heartbeat,

reading someone’s love for someone else.

It will be our love, a stolen emotion.


As I lift the book, nestle & rest

against a groove denting my chest

the exact shape & size of your delicate head.

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. His seventh collection, Tell Us How to Live, is forthcoming in 2024 from Fernwood Press.



  1. Wonderful to read these. Thanks

  2. Feels like something is about to break.

  3. Lovely. I love plain talk and images.


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