“What Has Become of Freedom?”: A Poem by Ace Boggess

—Bob Hicok, “To Find the New World”

The trouble with freedom is being free
not to think about freedom or desire escape
to freedom. Easy spending too many hours
watching the same news on television
with nothing new about it to make it news
except in name. The machine god pulls its levers &
an airplane disappears—sleight of a clockwork hand
as repetitions of uncertainty go on for weeks.
There’s a shooting in Texas which, at least, is fresh.
We are drawn into these other lives & so we forget
to live. Without the icy chill of steel shackles
there as symbols, we no longer feel the bruises
on our wrists. We watch a film in which some comic-
book hero fights to keep us safe. We eat fine meals.
We work, doze, blot out the sun. Why did we
want so much to break our bonds for this?
The trouble with freedom is forgetfulness.
The trouble with freedom is I don’t know,
I’m bored, you choose. We suffer no prison
like the one we build for ourselves—
its walls of sleep stacked from cinder blocks &
routine. Where did we put the gate?
We never look for it. There are games
to play, & lights-out comes too soon.

 

 

***

Ace Boggess is author of four books of poetry, most recently I Have Lost the Art of Dreaming It So (Unsolicited Press, 2018), as well as the novels States of Mercy (Alien Buddha Press, 2019) and A Song Without a Melody (2016). His writing appears in Notre Dame Review, Rhino, Rattle, and other journals. He received a fellowship from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts and spent five years in a West Virginia prison.

Image: texastribune.org

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