November 26, 2012

Ace Boggess

ABSENT DEAREST

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.

from Rattle #21, Summer 2004

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June 14, 2011

Ace Boggess

“CAN THEY DO THAT?”
            asked by Johnny Redmond

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.

from Rattle #34, Winter 2010

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October 4, 2009

Ace Boggess

“WHAT IS YOUR IDLE JOB?”

—question (with typo) in a mass email’s subject line

I wait for lunchtime at my desk, spinning
like a boy in a barber’s chair. Come noon, a walk
past pretty girls in flowered clothing, faces blooming
from sunlight’s brownish blush. I sit awhile,
lotus-like beneath a shadowy willow, breathe smells
of cut grass, melting chocolate.
I feed squirrels, sing love songs to pigeons,
watching as they bob their heads in rhythm.
Then it’s back to the office for coffee
tasting like gasoline, maybe a doughnut on the sly.
If my boss pops over, checking my progress,
I greet him with a good-natured pat on the back
to wipe the sticky glaze from my fingertips. After,
it’s time for all the important tasks: I shuffle
blank pages, transfer calls to disconnected numbers.
I wink at my window-reflection. I liaise. Mostly,
I deal with people come looking for me.
I give directions, always surprised if they reappear,
winded & flushed, to ask me where I am.

from Rattle #23, Spring 2005
Tribute to Lawyer Poets

__________

Ace Boggess: “I just like watching things, from at a distance at first and eventually from the center of the scene. I started writing as a way to take photographs of the things I was watching and, later, living. I began with songs as a fun way to take those photos, then moved on to my real love, novels. I picked up the bad habit of writing poems when I finally realized writing novels takes so long that too many important photos never get taken along the way.” (webpage)

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