“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)

“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.