Smoldering by Ace Boggess


Hillside burned, burning.
Trees, fallen, smoke
from wet black ends
like a lit cigarette
dropped on a rain-slick walk.

Leaves resemble paste of ashen paint
on the left, opposite the Elk River
as we pass along a rural route to her dad’s.

“It happens out here,” she says.
“Nobody pays attention.”

My head fills with newsy images
of far-off California
where flames look as if they burst
from a million wicks. Here,

no fire cares to aggravate the populace.
It keeps to itself, smoldering inward.

Same an hour later when I double back alone.
No fire trucks, spectators.

The end of the world came & went, &
none of us noticed, which,
I suspect, is what it always does.


Ace Boggess is author of five books of poetry—Misadventure, I Have Lost the Art of Dreaming It So, Ultra Deep Field, The Prisoners, and The Beautiful Girl Whose Wish Was Not Fulfilled—and the novels States of Mercy and A Song Without a Melody. His writing has appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, Notre Dame Review, Mid-American Review, River Styx, and many other journals. He received a fellowship from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts and spent five years in a West Virginia prison. He lives in Charleston, West Virginia. His sixth collection, Escape Envy, is forthcoming from Brick Road Poetry Press in 2021.

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