Ace Boggess: “However tragic or romantic, however chaotic or routine, life is absurd. I’m fascinated by the absurdity. I want to collect it in mason jars and give those out as gifts. That’s why I write poems, also an absurd thing to do. Well, that and I have few other useful skills. I mean, who would hire me? My current motto: ‘Will Post Poems to Facebook for Food.’” (webpage)
Ace Boggess: “Looking back at my years in prison, I often realize how absurd things seem compared to what the average person might expect. If I were watching a reality show like Lock-up or a TV series like, coincidentally, Oz, how likely is it that I would see a bunch of cons sitting around watching an old fantasy like The Wizard of Oz. Nonetheless, it happened. So, I put that down on paper. I love to write about the absurd in my life probably more than anything else. It allows me to make a serious point while laughing all the way.” (website)
Ace Boggess: “I have long believed in a journalism of poetry. I try to show the news of the day (which means that if it’s a slow news day, there are lots of pictures of squirrels in trees). I also have a special love for special love poems. It might be said I started digging up the corpse of Neruda many years before a Chilean judge decided to do the same.” (website)
Ace Boggess: “With both a law degree and a rap sheet, I of course am fascinated with the interplay between both sides of the law. This poem comes from such a crossover. It was inspired by a shakedown at the prison during which all inmate property was inventoried and itemized. Sigh. Inmates always wonder what it means to have so little of practical value in this world.” (web)
I walked among the graves alone
except for those dead names
collected in the whisper-basket for my tongue.
Crossing muddy easements, my face slicked with fine rain
that brought cologne’s scent like wine & citrus off my skin,
I knew no one’s Lithia Ledford, wife of Lee;
no Sherry, Raymond, Eric & Baby Quails;
not a single Irvin Bell, infant, son of Erma Jean.
I met them, faded images enshrined in frames: Lewis Benson, Elsey Lamar, James Everett Eudy
the third, the fourth & the fifth.
Were you there to witness their Civil War memorials,
their fragile elephants carved like marble teddy bears,
to count their dates & read their names aloud with me— Mrs. Lazano, Hope running, Rev. Ronald Lovinggood—
you would have welcomed love into your breath.
Distant, your name waited in twilit West Virginia,
surrounded by graves for rivers, shifting plates
that have no names we know, their monuments
extending to the clouds. Still, I praised your name, Love, strolling through the cemetery dark.
It was the voice of reason in my head,
the voice of remembering
as though I held your hand & led you
from that silence, voice absence
of your name, my name, their whispers.
They can feed you pulverized bones
of rat, but not the eyes or hair.
They can softly submerge your face in the sink,
never the toilet without a showing of cause.
They can sing country western songs
all night off key as you try to sleep,
rap on Fridays, rhythm & blues in the afternoon,
though heavy metal would violate your rights.
They can laugh at your inadequacy.
They can kick you, but only when you’re down.
They’ll seduce your wife with white roses &
tales of your exploits floundering
like a bear with no arms & broken wings.
On a good day they might leave you alone
(a good day for you, for they have none).
They can spin you in a centrifuge,
dress you in dresses, dance on your grave,
can tie your shoelaces in a knot
(don’t say they cannot) then lock
your fingers in a Chinese puzzle
so you struggle until you disappear,
a Theseus walking threadless into a maze.