with colors splashed on back
the blue of electric lemonades
flames detailed on a racing car
it circles the planter pink to pink
straddling petals bee-
like sucking pollen
it circles my head
as if trying to work its way in
an inky spot on my retina
Grace tells me the lifespan
of swallowtails is about two weeks
whereas monarchs go six months &
make it all the way to Mexico
I don’t claim to apprehend such things
any more than I can tell the difference
between Picasso’s scribbles & his masterpieces
I know that I like what I see
especially his series of blue guitars
lovely but crooked & off a bit
like the swallowtail’s wings
or maybe it’s the world that’s off &
the butterfly’s the only normal thing
Chemical Spill in Charleston, West Virginia
I can’t pronounce the poison word
or swallow water without drinking
rot O glorious rot
cleansing rot with rottenness
the anise scent of absolute truth
there & not there: a great invisible
someone said it tastes like cough syrup
which is liquor without the fun
love without the getting-
Waiting does the knowing for you.
Any minute now: the lights
through Venetian blinds
burn sulfur flames against your walls.
Cops will come, you tell yourself.
Remember bloody socks
Raskolnikov imagined that he wore?
Already your fictitious steel
cools against your wrists & ankles,
clanks at your waist
like some Victorian notion of a ghost.
See how you anticipate it?
Can’t sleep for fear you’ll miss it?
Your own arrest? That cruel penance?
When the first flash blinds at 2 a.m.,
you feel relieved that finally
it’s over—you’ve been caught—
until you look outside to see
the yellow of the city sweeper
cleaning your street of filth that isn’t you.
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). His novel, A Song Without a Melody, is forthcoming from Hyperborea Publishing. His writing has appeared in Harvard Review, Mid-American Review, RATTLE, River Styx, North Dakota Quarterly and many other journals. He lives in Charleston, West Virginia.