“And Why Am I a Free Man?” By Ace Boggess

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“And Why Am I a Free Man?”
         —Paulo Coelho, The Zahir  

time is the most valuable element
on any periodic table

spend it
give or lose it
wear it around one’s neck like gold

or clamped on wrists
like iron shackles

breathing it in takes a moment
but the exhale lasts a lifetime

less with good behavior

I mined years for their raw hours
spent & spent

another dinner in some sad café

 

 

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.

 

More By Ace Boggess:

“Why Did You Try to Sober Up?”

“Are Your Emotions More Or Less Intense?”

 

Image Credit: Carol M. Highsmith “View from the inside of the clock face on Portland, Oregon’s, historic Union Station’s 150-foot-high tower” (2018) The Library of Congress

“Are Your Emotions More or Less Intense?” By Ace Boggess

 

 

“Are Your Emotions More or Less Intense?”
                                    [rehab workbook]

I went to a psychic, & she told me I have an old soul,
says the Starbucks barista who resembles Cameron
Diaz, who’ll never be an old soul because she’s caught on film,

childlike. I want to reply with a trite line,
but what comes out is Thanks for the latte,
my thoughts too cluttered for quantum entanglements &

small talk. At eight, I was old, my eyes calculating
trajectories of escape, scanning my slightly-
feminine watch to figure out how long I had to wait.

My brain made other plans rather than commit
to now. Mind-weary, head-worn, terrified
back then. Emotions stop aging for an addict,

according to the texts, as long as drugs
maintain their grip: if true, I’m in my twenties—
anxious, desperate for attention, happy for strange words

from the woman who makes hot drinks, despite
how I answer: hesitant, uncertain, my hand reaching
for the steel grip of the door more than half a room away.

 

 

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.

 

More By Ace Boggess:

“Why Did You Try to Sober Up?”

 

Image Credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: “Marble Bust of a Youth” (140 AD)

SATURDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: ACE BOGGESS

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  PROPERTY
  By Ace Boggess

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(Today’s poem originally appeared in Rattle and appears here today with permission from the poet.)

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 earned his B.A. from Marshall University and his J.D. from the West Virginia University College of Law. His writing has appeared in Harvard Review, Mid-American Review, Atlanta Review, RATTLE, River Styx, Southern Humanities Review and many other journals. He currently resides in Charleston, West Virginia.

Editor’s Note: Today’s post contemplates the notion of ownership, stretching the reaches of that idea to love, to possession, to art and life. I know what it is to live a life in which “All I own fits in a box & a bag,” in which “For want of a dollar I’d insert one poem / into a vending machine for peanuts,” but “the mechanism / washes it back as counterfeit.” Press against this capitalist world, this material existence—where we are weened on ideas of ownership and worship of the Almighty Dollar—and you will discover that what really matters cannot be measured by these false gods. Take a moment to wonder—with me, with today’s poet— “How would it be to possess an interest in the sun” or “a lien on [your] lover’s breast,” and remember that “There’s so much nothing in the world: a man can’t even own that / without acquiring something in the loss.”

Want to read more by and about Ace Boggess?
Valparaiso Poetry Review
Blood Orange Review
The Aurora Review
Red Booth Review
Coe Review