~This poem first appeared in The Bryant Literary Review (2003).
“Prefer Slick, Feverish Grooves Over Funky Backbeats?”
[seen in an advertisement]
blessed rock’n’roll R & B funk folk acid jazz
blessed Beatles carnival barkers calling the modern era
blessed Doors Who Grateful Dead immortal
noodling licks on vinyl persistent as the low note
in my college neighbor’s busy buzzing radiator
blessed Sam playing along
“there’s a B-flat in my headboard”
blessed Joshua Redman
saxophone a second tongue whispering sweetest words in bed
blessed Rusted Root rhythmic re-animators of jam-band jam
blessing the crowd with dance shake mystery vibe
blessed locals Jeff Roy Tyler Kat Mike Speedy John Shawn
Annie leaving to return
savor diverse notes catchy refrains
heavy metal blaring
frayed like an old man’s movement into night tonight
a Celtic quintet whistling bullets through
silk armor of a woman’s voice
blessed Shenanigans classic Irish sweetness
melancholia groove & bounce
blessed Van Morrison soulful tone suffering slings & arrows
blessed techno Moby reggae Marley
ska la la da da de da de
blessed Freddie Mercury coy erotic reaching
“March of the Black Queen”
blessed sultry Shirley Manson “happy when it rains” &
sad to be in song blessed blessed blessed
pipers in the summer heat
center stage at Calamity Cafe
vanished-bar nostalgia welcome as the word ‘welcome’
in chords chorus tensing cadence
tribal as a movie about the white man’s dream
blessed background score to my climax falling action
end blessed end that hasn’t found me yet
Sartre’s silence punctuates a symphony
defines as much as first chords
solos arpeggios harmony
blue notes blessed blue notes &
violence in the interlude anticipating quiet
for the blessed listener’s blessed blessed ear
~This poem first appeared in Poetry East (2003).
“So What Is the Line Between Memory and Hallucination?”
—William S. Burroughs, The Adding Machine
We were in love; we weren’t in love.
Our bodies focused a frequency channeling the Divine.
How ugly we were, & how beautiful, man
over woman, & woman man. Our nights
lit up with candles, jacks-o-lantern,
overhead lamps cleansing the darkening pain.
She came in a wilting anger; I held back with ecstasy.
It was the beast of times, the washed of times,
scented in orange blossoms, jasmine & vanilla.
Hands read the braille on her skin,
lips drew blood from a turnip. We were
in love; we weren’t. Our eyes never saw &
never see the truth, a phantom limb
recalled like a novel read in youth.
THE STORY BEHIND THE POEMS
In 2002, I began working on a series of Q&A poems in which a question (with credit to the person asking) served as the title and a jumping-off point into whatever world my brain wandered. The questions at first came from people I knew, and then from poems or novels I read, from spam e-mails and medical questionnaires, overheard conversations, and the occasional billboard or religious leaflet. Any time I heard or read a question that struck me as interesting, I jotted it down until I could find my way into the answer. The results often surprised me, taking me places I could not expect and often pulling memories from me I had forgotten or language I seldom used. I have played with many forms in the years since, but I always return to the questions. They have some sort of lien on the best parts of my subconscious.
ABOUT ACE BOGGESS
Ace Boggess is the author of two books of poems: The Prisoners (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2014) and The Beautiful Girl Whose Wish Was Not Fulfilled (Highwire Press, 2003). His writing has appeared in Harvard Review, Notre Dame Review, Mid-American Review, Atlanta Review, River Styx, and many other journals. He currently resides in Charleston, West Virginia. His two poems included here are from a third collection, tentatively titled, The Dreaming Grocer, which remains in search of a publisher.