Ace Boggess

Pop Culture

A friend said I short-circuit conversations with pop-culture references
four hundred twenty-seven every day
I tried to count them but got lost between
explaining the other novels of Anthony Burgess &
William Burroughs’ Nike commercials or uncredited cameo
saying “ominous” in Even Cowgirls Get the Blues
so forgive me I said if I slip in a line from Flash Gordon
with its flawless artsy soundtrack by Queen
or quote you wisdom from lyrics you’ve never heard
by bands you’ve never heard of like Calexico or Rusted Root
it’s my way of relating the world out there to the universe in here
with its kaleidoscopic trembling from the edge


I barely cross the threshold when our mouths greet without language
not a moment for discord & no pause to pray serenity
welcome welcome to the burning space along the timberline
it seems we’ve been climbing on top of each other for centuries
groping evolving gripping the sheets
not like we didn’t fall together in the time of Alexander & the two times of Christ
not like we haven’t rejoiced over wounds since before the black powder
we’ve made a slow walk through history
every reintroduction forgives purge & Inquisition
even Galileo & his vision of Jupiter harboring many moons

The First Cigarette

I stood in front of Bob Evans
waiting to eat a chosen breakfast

for the first time in half a decade &
thought how the world is still a prison

for those sentenced to its years
unwilling to stand in the cold with me

I saw a hundred cars go by
like painted rats along a concrete ledge

some pulled into the lot by Toys R Us
mothers going inside to buy cheap plastic cages

in whatever form they take:
action figures model cars animals & baseball bats

their children will play for hours at a time
trapped in their earliest illusions

wanting no part of it I hid behind a first cigarette
my skin tingling from the freedom of open air

I watched as ashes shot off like seedheads &
paper slowly burned away to nothing

© Ace Boggess

Ace Boggess is the author of two books of poetry: The Prisoners (Brick Road, 2014) and The Beautiful Girl Whose Wish Was Not Fulfilled (Highwire, 2003).  His writing has appeared in Harvard Review, Mid-American Review, RATTLE, River Styx, and many other journals. He lives in Charleston, West Virginia.

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