Three Poems by Ace Boggess



Schoolteacher Elegy

scanning the obituaries this morning I see
my junior high English teacher

the one who ignored me while I slept or pretended to sleep
with head posed on arm pressed to the desk

then introduced me to Hugo the French Shakespeare
with Quasimodo’s bones cradling a rose in Esmeralda’s grave

I was a child in hiding then
afraid even to speak my name aloud

yet she had me doing voices as I read my part
from a play filled with spacemen & the humor of the human

life is a literary tragedy from birth & also a comedy of errors
as though a sign waits inside each coffin urging Watch for falling rocks

I would return the favor & let her sleep
or pretend as though dead actors must return with bows

but first a grateful nod for the calamity of words
crashing together on a page

buried these many years in the last place
I ever thought to look


the whir of its rolling like a bowling ball in the return
then silence before it clicks the pavement

it hops like a child’s red bouncer from a coin machine
stops inches from encountering my shoe

forbidden fruit in the Eden of sprites
fleshy marble dropped from a height

yet no crabapple roots near the perimeter of the house
this jewel smuggled a long way to the roof

by a clumsy squirrel losing his grip at last
before the meat might make a meal for his chattering mouth

snatching defeat from the jaws of victory as a professor of mine
once said turning the clichéd into a newsworthy line  

also he was adamant we feel bad not badly never badly
for someone & bad is what I feel for this journeyman down on his luck

who left his luggage on a southbound train
I was like him earlier when my fingers slipped their grip on a coffee mug

I watched it fall endlessly as though in Xeno’s paradox
heading forever by halves to the floor

The Postman

all my life I’ve been waiting for the postman
with his answers to so many questions

spoken in the gruff or desperate voices of strangers
each the next exit on an Interstate highway of words

hold up I’ve often wished to say
let’s have some coffee & a crust of cinnamon toast

he passes in & out of my life
like the silence after rain before crickets tune their clarinets

give me a thought on politics or epistemology
I’d beg although he leaves me bank statements

electric bills & ads for services I never use
then it’s back to the wait & next delay

like a curved eye left half-carved in stone
unable to see while incomplete what it wouldn’t see if whole

Ace Boggess was locked up for five years in the West Virginia prison system. During that time, he wrote the poetry collection The Prisoners. Prior to his incarceration, he earned his BA from Marshall University and his JD from West Virginia University. He has been awarded a fellowship from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts, and his poems have appeared in such journals as Harvard ReviewNotre Dame ReviewSouthern Humanities Review, and The Florida Review. His first collection, The Beautiful Girl Whose Wish Was Not Fulfilled, appeared in 2003. He currently resides in Charleston, West Virginia.

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