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.



I thought the door
was standing open
and beyond it
all the blue
of heaven,
that it was
only necessary
to pass through
and so into
the beyond
and who cares if
metaphoric or real, pass
into a place
like heaven,
a heaven blue
as something
or other but
even that wasn’t
Yes, it might
have been
blue but it might
have been otherwise
as we often are
and the things
around us, even me,
I wasn’t
needed, not even
the door,
though it was
there, and
standing open
and I could have,
yes, easily,
could have, but
there are
limits and this
could very well
be mine.


Marc Harshman’s WOMAN IN RED ANORAK, Blue Lynx Prize winner, was published in 2018 by Lynx House Press. His fourteenth children’s book, FALLINGWATER, co-author Anna Smucker, was published by Roaring Brook/Macmillan. He is co-winner of the 2019 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award and his Thanksgiving poem, “Dispatch from the Mountain State,” was recently printed in the New York Times. Poems have been anthologized by Kent State University, the University of Iowa, University of Georgia, and the University of Arizona. He is the seventh poet laureate of West Virginia.