Poetry » Ace Boggess »


When I Enter a House Not Mine

my eyes like a spy’s concealed cameras
aim for the bookshelves first.
I learn what I can—not about history
or how to self-help changing the guts
in a toilet tank, but about my host
who might prefer Marcus Aurelius,
Reader’s Digest, Kerouac, or Stephen King.
I love to observe the married couple best,
their merged lives divided into separate shelves.
I make a game of guessing who prefers
the coffee-table book on war &
who Mark Strand’s Selected Poems,
the older one, yellowed like a newspaper
after days in the sunlight. Why, too,
are there so many children’s books
when there have been no children? Why
so many volumes left without a wrinkle?
This I call my occupation: measuring
strangers by the words they claim,
those bought for pennies or stolen
from a library torn down twenty years ago.
I take in all this information,
reading the faces of spines at attention.
Why does anyone ever let me in?

“Why Didn’t You Just Kiss Her?”

                              [question asked by Andrea Fekete]

She said she forgot she wasn’t wearing panties
that night in the rain when she did cartwheels on her lawn,
clothed in her short, black dress, silken & glossed
like a nightgown, like a slip. She tumbled, exposed,
onto the damp grass, lay there, laughing. &
I confess, that night, I did. Lightning measured the heavens
inch by inch, its brightening flashes offering
ripples on our skin—this, the formula for chiller-movie madness.
That night, I kissed her, or she kissed me—more than once.
We were mysterious strangers on a slow train.
We were bathers testing the water with our toes.
We inspired each other to write a thousand poems,
a novel, all the world’s songs that begin in yearning,
lead through want, & move further into waywardness.
I kissed her that night. That that night. No,
she did it first; I, after. She said, I didn’t expect
you’d kiss me back or think you’d be so passionate.
She wondered if some other night
we might lie side by side to share our dreams.

The Blob

Fairview Productions,
                                        Tonylyn Productions, Inc., 1958

          Steve McQueen before he was
          Steve McQueen—the extra ‘n’
          a young dream of seriousness
          later erased by a cooler hand.
          Even here, where he’s a slick teen,
          stuttering & inept with girls,
          you see it: the dashing hero
          (often anti-) who will one day
          outsmart Nazis & cocksure wardens
          while lighting up the charm
          like a display case for glass.
          Growing up, I sometimes heard
          how men wanted to be him &
          women wanted to be with him.
          I’ll tell you, I’m just as happy
          watching. It’s like bringing home
          a lion in a bucket: feed it admiration, &
          it snarls when you stroke it,
          which you will until it grows
          gigantic & beyond what
          control you thought you had.