Ace Boggess

“Do You Think American Prisons Have Any Flaws?”
       [question asked by Geosi Gyasi]

I’d promise you nothing from inside, from elsewhere,
otherwise. I’d sing in the shower, loud as sirens,
off-key on the cars that brought me
to a fixed point in the hateful universe.
Beneath a black, poly-fiber blanket,
I’d squeeze my arms to comfort me
while I slept & dreamt of a hole in the wall &,
running through it, a stray, smoke-
furred figment of a cat to lead me out.

“How Long Were You Locked Up?”
       [question asked by T.J. King]

Chains fall away,
but a man won’t be released
except through forgetting.
Even now I hide in shadows of my cell,
yearning for a glimpse of the moon
or breath of perfume
like butterscotch & drying roses
off a stranger’s neck, &
stranger still the story of a world
in which there are no walls.

“What Will You Do to Celebrate?”
       [question asked by Jan Iman]

Start a blank page in my diary
of misadventure. Sniff the coffee.
Embrace a woman whose
scent is lavender & rum.
I refuse nostalgia for the grave
containing yesterday. Sure,
there will be struggles:
fear replacing fear in resonating
chambers of the heart. Today
has its dry yet frigid breath.
I walk in the cold, my lips
chapped. This pain is mine.
I welcome it: the only thing
I’ve owned or ever will.

Author Portrait

Ace Boggess is the author of two books of poetry: The Prisoners (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2014) and The Beautiful Girl Whose Wish Was Not Fulfilled (Highwire Press, 2003). He is an ex-con, ex-husband, ex-reporter, and completely exhausted by all the things he isn’t anymore. His writing has appeared in Harvard Review, Mid-American Review, Rattle, North Dakota Quarterly, River Styx, and many other journals. He lives in Charleston, West Virginia.