At the Art-Walk Noir Exhibit

by Ace Boggess

Lining the walls of a lawyer’s office,
many gritty images: hints of Hitchcock
like the first squirt of hand soap,
though where it lathers mostly falls to shadows,
scenes frozen from the old murder films—
never Sam Spade, but often the mystery woman
who crosses his threshold & smokes a long cigarette.
Grace has a piece like that, first on the left
by the elevator: sultry face ensconced in
negative space—the term she used.
She paints the way I write: hours (days)
of thinking thinking thinking,
before hands blink & blaze like beams
at a Pink Floyd laser show.
The best parts are mental anyway,
even for Pollock dripping his candle wax,
bacon grease; even for portraits done by cats
smudging a canvas with their painted paws—
someone had to think of that
just as here in the lawyer’s hall,
I’m forced, too, to think of shadows,
those adorning red brick walls,
those in locked steel cabinets
hidden away in files that might read
like cheap detective novels
that end—if they ever do—only
when the bad guy gets away with it.

Ace Boggess is the author of two books of poetry: 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, Mid-American Review, RATTLE, River Styx, North Dakota Quarterly and many other journals. He lives in Charleston, West Virginia.

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