by Ace Boggess



How many times I stood exposed before my jailers
as they checked for contraband, infections,
new tattoos. They doused me with delousing ooze.
They did their best to see inside me.
Some watched me squirm while I filled a cup
like a backseat child whose dad won’t stop
during trips. I danced the Broken Robot,
danced the Barber Pole. I swayed to rhythms
of the silence of laughter that never happened,
never stopped. I was more ashamed of my gut
than shriveled prick. We have these hang-ups:
spiders, tight spaces, frolicking naked around a fire.
Prison makes us humbled exhibitionists.
I danced the Quiet Listener. I danced the Frog Parade.
I could’ve pirouetted in the chill-rich Stone Suite
as guards stared in my direction & saw nothing,
no one, nada, not a disembodied human face



Ace Boggess is the author of four books of poetry, most recently I Have Lost the Art of Dreaming It So (Unsolicited Press, 2018) and Ultra Deep Field (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2017), and two novels, including States of Mercy (Alien Buddha Press, 2019). His writing has appeared in Harvard Review, Mid-American Review, Rattle, River Styx, 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.

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