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Three Poems by Ace Boggess

“I scan rooms with a happiness detector,/which is like a broken Geiger counter/that stays silent while the bombs go off.”

I Drifted Off to the Sound of Your Voice

We were talking about why people are horrible

trying to get by in the horrible world,

or get off in it, get moving, get a life, &

I, equally engaged in outrage,

felt the soothing timbre of your voice,

the soft, exotic lulling of your voice, &

it was late, & I was at peace in the horrible world

like a Carolina parakeet gazing contentedly

from its branch at the curious biped

with iron rod that will erase its species.


So sorry. Your words were a lullaby

despite their contempt for red-

state ruffians in rumbling trucks &

how meth-head multiple-stabbing suspects

don’t age with any sort of grace.

I warmed, lulled. My eyes went easily to the grave

before you resurrected them, saying, Hey,

you there, your pleading a pleasant thing

to wake up to in what, for me,

had become a breath of bliss.


Seasonal Depression

New year, & everyone I encounter

explores the sick & sad & dark

by complaining while drinking

wine, beer, or clear liquor,

which leads to conversations about booze.

Why do folks slightly in their cups

want to talk about their cups

as though there have been no better

scientific discoveries than fermentation

or we’ll look through a telescope &

see that rabbit sipping saké on the moon?


If it hadn’t been gray & nasty by day,

if the sky didn’t dim so early,

friends would go through hours &

not mention sorrow, text a crying emoji

over photos of their faces,

detail how much malt is added to a brewing vat

along with hops. No one would explain

the three stages of grieving at a wake.


I scan rooms with a happiness detector,

which is like a broken Geiger counter

that stays silent while the bombs go off.

I see raised glasses or empty ones,

along with strangers chatting

about which flavors of schnapps are best

to pour on a night like this.


Traveling Riverside Blues

Sunset at 5:28, just as I’m beginning my trek

from the hidden shadowy niche of Queen Shoals

half an hour south to Charleston.

Snow rushes, heavier. The storm,


finicky at first, has made up its mind

to bluster & rage. Temperature dropping,

the roads will freeze before they’re buried.

In my little Ford, how long do I have


to reach my end before night ensnares me

or a sheath of white conceals the icy blade?

Factor in a reduction of speed on the Interstate

for safety’s sake—will it be enough?


I can’t count all the times I’ve journeyed

when the weather turned against me,

others when I’ve locked myself away at home

while sunlight promised the lie of a passable way.


Ace Boggess is author of six books of poetry, including Escape Envy, which was released with Brick Road Poetry Press in 2021, and two novels. His poems have appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, Mid-American Review, Harvard Review, River Styx, and other journals. An ex-convict, he lives in Charleston, West Virginia, where writes and tries to stay out of trouble. His seventh collection, Tell Us How to Live, is forthcoming in 2024 from Fernwood Press.

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