“Watching the Wizard of Oz in Prison” by Ace Boggess

Ace Boggess


we sit there straining & stiff
in straight-backed chairs

half a dozen of us
following Dorothy’s naïve plunge

into trouble & Technicolor
a fantasy less enchanting

than in the innocence of our youth
what is Dot but a body dressed in innocence?

her Betty Boop oh-mys
her dance-stepping along the avenues

like a skipped stone or drop of paint
from a bucket left on a booming speaker &

how she makes friends with strangers
what her mama warned her about

more likely to encounter one of us
cowardly heartless & out of our minds

we forgive her this slip-up
having come with her so far

we go on following at a safe distance
like guardian angels with bloody swords &

when we arrive at the Emerald City
we sneak thief-like through the gates

wanting to see her achieve her goal
which is the same as ours

from Rattle #48, Summer 2015

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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)

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