Ace Boggess 3 Poems

Swallowtail

raven wings

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-

to-know-you-better

Apprehension

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.

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Ace Boggess

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