Ace Boggess

The Unseen Copperheads lurk in woods nearby,hiding under heaped stiff leaves.No reason for me to tramp that way,risk stomping the slippery stickthat strikes. Let me have my terror.I deserve it. I’m an astronautwho has never seen the stars. Weird Dreams Post-apocalyptic in a dusty street bazaarauthorities, black-armored, shiny like marbles,rousted sellers—they sought an objectthat resembled a royal-blue phallus—some weapon or magic talisman.Grace was beside me as in 1994when we worked at the record store / headshop /adult room. After the object had been passed to us,we hid it at our table in a pile of like-colored sex toys—who could tell the difference? Not soldiers.They shrugged as they passed as if embarrassedby etiquette of debauchery. The night before,I trapped my enemies in a burning room,smiled at them through a window as though a madmanready to enjoy their deaths. Through the glass,one mouthed, What do you want?I raised two fingers like rabbit ears, antennae,the sign for victory. I wanted peace or destruction—no middle ground. I’ve been watching too much television in the evenings,trying to dull strikes of sucker punchesmy brain throws at bedtime, calm me enough to sleep,though movie worlds mergewith my unconscious need to earn release. It’s like I’ve skipped the psychiatrist’s couchto sneak thief-like into a theater, stealing shows—wondrous & exciting, if at times a little bleak.I enjoy being part of them, rememberingbits of plot details; dislike that I forget so muchor wake too soon & won’t learnwhat power that blue prick possessed. “Why Think in Such Glorious Weather?” —Stephen Dobyns, “Thanks” Gray-banded uptake, overcast & cool as only autumn.My car spit its burning-rubber scent in gaspsof aged machines. There’s light wind to likeas if a Facebook post, thumbs up,farthest-reaching fingers of some hurricanehundreds of miles from here. Breeze comfortsskin stripped of side windows, steel door.Better to forget, leave mechanics for tomorrowwhen sunlight hurts too much, &not a soothing raindrop hits the eye. Ace Boggess is author of five books of poetry, most recently Misadventure (Cyberwit, 2020) and I Have Lost the Art of Dreaming It So (Unsolicited Press, 2018), as well as two novels, including States of Mercy (Alien Buddha Press, 2019). His writing appears in Notre Dame Review, The Laurel Review, River Styx, Rhino, North Dakota Quarterly, and 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.