Smoldering by Ace Boggess

Smoldering

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.

Words by Ace Boggess

Your words are a drug
to quicken my focus
for a long journey,
rest me nestled in dark at night,
add vigor, which is a sort of hope.

I crave your words
as I would an addiction
I know well, shouldn’t
return to, will.

They maintain my heartrate
at its steady racing, treat
my cancerous lethargy.
Your words, praise them,
bring euphoria & stillness.

Could save my life with capsules
of your words. Your words
I swallow greedily
as if a squirrel
that found a stale bun.

 

Ace Boggess is author of five books of poetry—MisadventureI Have Lost the Art of Dreaming It SoUltra 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 Harvard Review, Notre Dame Review, Mid-American Review, Rattle, 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.