Two Poems by Ace Boggess

“What Does Living Do to Any of Us?”

               —Tracy K. Smith, “The Searchers”

We define ourselves by thrills, aches, sadnesses, &
laughter. I, too, have listened to Bowie

while looking at the stars & felt the fugue state
of space pulled through stereo speakers;

I’ve hit my head on the ground staring at the firmament.
The hedges offer louder music. Same woods

hide serpents. If we watch each step,
the concert won’t be interrupted by our grief.


“What Will You Do When It’s Over?”

             question asked by Mary Carroll-Hackett

Confess: I will lay my vaccinated body
against others, any,
as though I were young,
as though it mattered, any-
thing mattered aside from breathing.
Disaster is the bride of debauchery.
Wars: sex. After the Towers: sex,
also drugs, prayers, ice cream.
Name one catastrophe
that didn’t lead to mindless
desperate groping in dim rooms?
I joke about the post-pandemic orgies,
but in the Middle Ages, didn’t they,
after plague & past the culling?
Think Renaissance, think Enlightenment,
think I don’t want to think any-
more, just breathe & be
with others in whatever origami swans
our skins will fold, our hands
tenderly shaping reassurance.


Ace Boggess is the author of six books of poetry, including Escape Envy (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2021), I Have Lost the Art of Dreaming It So, and The Prisoners. His writing has appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, Notre Dame Review, Harvard Review, Mid-American Review, and other journals. An ex-con, he lives in Charleston, West Virginia, where he writes and tries to stay out of trouble.

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