Ace Boggess

Are You Having Any Sleep Problems?

                                           —healthcare questionnaire

I can’t seem to finish my dreams.
They build to a sort of tension
too impassioning to stop—​​
little detective novels
I have written myself into.
As the clues add up,
as a spy watches me from shadows,
as I never see the monster
though I know it lurks, stalks,
I fail to find a climax,
resolution. A door won’t open.
Zombies pause for a smoke break
at 2 a.m., then quit their jobs &
won’t return. I see people I know
having sex with other people I know
although I know they don’t know
each other. They smile at me &
wave me on to the next room
as if there were an answer there,
filing cabinet filled with facts
I still haven’t figured out by 6,
when I start reading Exodus
rather than Revelations, &
the Great Delete begins again
as I roll over to silence
the droning metronome
that urges me, Get up. Now go &
play the song of forgetting.


Are You Having Any Sleep Problems?
 —healthcare questionnaire

I get up each day at 6 as I did
all those years in the penitentiary,
except that now I go outside,
feeling the chill of frosted grass.
Already in the dim last moonlight,
squirrels follow their trail of tears,
searching for a few lost nuts.
A chipmunk rides its bullet train
across the lawn & down some unseen
hole as if a pneumatic tube. I hear
but can’t make out a biker gang of deer—​​
four or five from the sound of it—​​
stomping leaves on the other side
of the fence. Though my cough
might startle them, as, too, a menthol
scent of my first breath of morning,
they won’t flee, their hearts
as at peace in a.m. bliss as mine.
These are what I must give up.
Why would anyone quit so much
to quit a thing so small as this?
To sacrifice the serendipitous,
O, lament. No choice ever
comes without its cost.

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.