Ace Boggess: 3 poems

I Can’t Stop

guessing who’ll die. Last grandparent, aunts, cousins, 
friends, friends of friends, Facebook friends, editors 

who told me no when I asked them to dance with my words, 
& those who said yes like kissing strangers in shadowy corners—

God, it could be anyone; could be me, out of shape, 
lungs scarred from cigarettes & poor decisions. 

I’m gambling in my head, playing probabilities 
like looking at my team’s schedule, 

thinking we should win these games, but those we’ll lose. 
Too many surprises or unexpected injuries. 

I’m calculating odds, not placing bets. 
I’d prefer not to win even one.

My Neighbor Calls to Ask for Help

She’s forgotten how to turn off windshield wipers 
on the car she’s owned for years. She’s 98, or 78—
I never ask. Graying starts in hair, bleeds through skin 
& eyes to reach the brain. Same for me. The other day, 
I realized I couldn’t remember phone numbers 
to any of my childhood homes. Don’t know which 
was last to linger. Some details of my past remain
in conversations: “Let me try something.” “Sure.” 
“I wanted to know what it was like.” Others fire & fade 
like the flashpoint of fine powder: feels, smells, faces, 
names of those who’ve bloodied me or those I’ve bloodied. 
As I flip the arm on my neighbor’s steering column, 
I contemplate the coming gray: granite, marble, stone.


Conjures inside you on the highway miles from town. 
You blink tar out of existence. 

Your brain looks to the past for stimulation, 
future for creation, plotting details. 

You forget where you are. 
Markers have passed, gray of the road unreal to you. 

Are you moving in the right direction? 
Closer to home, you have no idea 

how you reached this place, are glad of it. 
Marvel stirs, inciting: Press the pedal hard.

Ace Boggess is 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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