Poetry by Ace Boggess

“How Canst Thou Endure Without Being Mad?”
~Ahab in Moby-Dick

A mental patient escapes the ward &

dances in pirouettes across the street

while wearing only his cyan hospital gown.

A convict is beaten bloody by his captors,

another likewise by the other cons.

A woman attempting to navigate streets of Charleston

pushes a wobbling tree three times her height

on a dolly as if an IQ test for Buster Keaton.

Men fly airplanes into buildings.

Women I’ve cared for live out their lives

on suicide watch. Ahab, we despair.

Our obsessions run as deep as yours:

drugs for the perfect high, drugs

to repair damage caused by other drugs.

I prefer casual sex & cigarettes

these days, but my mind carries me back

to people I couldn’t save in a burning building,

dragons I should’ve fought instead of chased.

Isn’t it madness wanting what we want?

Call it love, call it vengeance,

call it an escape hatch or the last train out of town.

We go on. We test the wind. We stand ready,

balancing blades of harpoons.

Ace Boggess is author of six books of poetry, most recently Escape Envy (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2021). His writing has appeared in Indiana Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Notre Dame Review, Hanging Loose, and other journals. An ex-con, he lives in Charleston, West Virginia, where he writes and tries to stay out of trouble. His seventh collection, Tell Us How to Live, is forthcoming in 2024 from Fernwood Press.