Five Poems

By Ace Boggess

Love Is the Journey

Days I’ve driven around the city
because I came too early to pick you up from work.
Sitting in an idling car, running in place,
waiting, didn’t seem an option.
I needed movement, action
on a small scale. I circled blocks,
listening to music, smoking out the open window, 

observing joggers, dog-walkers, drug dealers
leaning against parked cars to offer the sly handshake
or the sudden drop. How often
was I nearly blindsided by a bus?
How many times did I pass the same house—
cracked brick, one boarded window—&
wonder were there ghosts inside? 

Here is my love poem for you:
not the words I’ve written but the pause
between departure & arrival.
It’s then I’ve felt centered, certain.
Farther out I spiraled, the closer I came to you,
counting minutes, singing along
to a happy song about someone’s desperation.

 

Unseasonable Warmth

Japonicas bloom as the temperature drops,
lipstick buds stretching toes into frigid water. 

Year after year, they do this too early,
race to flame at the first pre- 

spring blush before a chill returns.
Soon, they will lean forward in ice, 

their rosy faces peeking out
from a crystalline lattice of snow. 

We fear the worst as if for trapped koi
frozen in a pond. Yet they go on. 

Photos will be taken, snapshots
of contrast: rebirth, miscalculation. 

The hedge will blaze in embers
already wasting to ash—my god, the absence.

 

Burning the Worm

Snuffing my cigarette. Didn’t see it
there in dark, in the rain-gray mirror.
Two halves arced in sync
like glow-stick dancers at a rave,
like a nighttime Landing Signal Officer
waving fighter jets around the deck.
Water put both pieces out,
each vanishing into an abyss.
I felt sick about it, despite that I’d done
much worse to worms, serving them
on a hook for sport to frenzied sunfish
in a river niche. I thought
I should be charged with Reckless
Endangerment by the arthropod police,
thrown in a dirt cell, dank & chthonic.
Lord, it was an accident,
but does that make me innocent?
How might one rescue the invisible?
It’s like the old riddle about
what I would save from a house on fire.
I know the correct response & know my heart.

 

Goodbye, Julie Adams

Didn’t know you were still alive, & now you’re gone.
92—good age to die, as good as any. 

After so many years, how did you see your history,
your figure that inspired love from monsters, 

one Creature? He swam beneath you
in murky undercurrents of desire, 

a timid stranger drinking at the sludge bar,
followed you into the next film hoping you’d save him, 

except you weren’t there. I don’t recall
much of my childhood beyond late-night movies, 

Chiller Theatre with Bela, Boris, Lon, & you,
bathing suit bright like a fire shot in black & white. 

You went by Julia then, a role
you played within the role you played. 

Did you watch yourself on screen?
Did you own every format—Betamax, VHS, laser disc, 

DVD, digital? Did you mourn the Gill Man
as he would mourn you now, 

grieving, raging, & destroying? Or was that
a moment like a brief embarrassment in college, 

something that happened to you once
that you no longer found significant? 

As you please. The myth of you illuminates my screen
when I watch again, am watching, 

voyeur of melancholy, creature as well,
observing you since youth & loving still.

 

What I Remember

Security guard more than private wing or the one
priceless painting it sheltered. Manet,
I think. Or was it Monet? Don’t recall the face,
flower, female form. There was blue, 

maybe—a lot of it. Cerulean. Could be.
We walked in & out, past the hired muscle
who looked like John Belushi in a herringbone suit.
He was art, standing out as intended; 

art that says something about human nature,
even if we fail to comprehend or pay attention.
In J-school photojournalism, my professor said,
If a picture doesn’t have a person in it, 

then it isn’t news. I remember that &
the guy in the suit: bas-relief against a sterile wall,
his earpiece coiled around the horns,
hands cupped as if a stone St. Francis shone in prayer.

Ace Boggess is author of four books of poetry, most recently I Have Lost the Art of Dreaming It So (Unsolicited Press, 2018) and Ultra Depp Field (Brick Road, 2017). His poems appear in Harvard Review, Rattle, cream city review, J Journal, Bellingham Review, and other journals. He lives in Charleston, West Virginia.