ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Ace Boggess


Casing the Joint

                Statewide Lockdown, Day Eight

Third time I’ve seen that white Dodge Ram
pulling down the cul-de-sac,
pausing, racing away in reverse.

I snapped a picture. The truck, not the driver.
Could be anyone on streets nobody wanders:
a tourist in the land of the dead,

collector of mementos mori,
worm wallowing in moistened earth,
vulture that feasts on a carcass by the road.


Ants Break Quarantine

                                Statewide Lockdown, Day Six

Hole in my isolation chamber? I’ve been panic-
eating hamburgers, ice cream, spaghetti, chips.

Shiny, beaded questers truck across the counter
seeking crumbs of garlic toast, a shard of burned meat,

splatter patterns of pancake syrup gelling in the drain.
Ants have arrived at the feast, uninvited guests

like Poe’s Red Death or the new coronavirus,
visible & bold, planting flags on an island.


I Grew Up Watching the Three Stooges

every Saturday morning, yet think about Larry,
Moe, & Curly only as often as I remember
the girl who stood me up at a Whitesnake concert.

All that slapstick—eye pokes, sawblades,
Larry’s hair ripped out in handfuls—erupts,
unexpected. I spent half as much time

in prison among like-minded villains, &
I see their faces daily, cruel antics, scheming,
scowling, blowing smoke into a bathroom vent,

as if years warehoused were my childhood.
I cling to memories as if nostalgic for teen love,
movies about flying saucers, games involving seances

with cousins on a patio by the woods.
Isn’t insanity pining for the worst of times?
When I try to change the subject, explore

delicate isolation from my youth, a door closes
to shut me out, trap me in that atmosphere
of growing up, old, & broken by the beautiful world.


Ace Boggess is author of six books of poetry, most recently Escape Envy. His writing has appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, Notre Dame Review, Harvard Review, Mid-American Review, and other journals. An ex-con, he lives in Charleston, West Virginia, where he writes and tries to stay out of trouble. His seventh collection, Tell Us How to Live, is forthcoming in 2024 from Fernwood Press.

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