“Why Did You Try to Sober Up?” by Ace Boggess


“Why Did You Try to Sober Up?”
                           [rehab workbook]

Couldn’t afford the cost of words.
I snorted sentences, gambled paragraphs
on Texas Hold’em—no limit.
My wallet left me in stanzas of regret.
Someone would’ve placed a lien on my house.
Someone would’ve called the cops
if I hadn’t invited them first.

I wrote, wept, raved, & spent,
chewed bad checks like after-dinner mints.

Was it the drugs that broke me, or the prose?
We never know what value to place
on what we want. I wanted
to etch my unconscious thoughts on rocks.

Did I love the pills? I loved them: little songs
I could sing to me, pay-to-play,
the tab so great I’d be muzzled
if I wasted coins on anything but wishes.


About the Author: Ace Boggess is author of four books of poetry, most recently I Have Lost the Art of Dreaming It So (Unsolicited Press, 2018). His writing appears in Notre Dame Review, Rhino, North Dakota Quarterly, Rattle, 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.


Image Credit: Jacob Byerly “Portrait of a Man” (1855) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

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