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issue 5


a poem by
Ace Boggess
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If I Am Something Else

"If I am changing, I am no longer who I was;
and if I am something else, it's obvious that
I have no acquaintances. And I can't possibly
write to strangers."


Will you know me, you readers of poetry,
though I've changed? As you sit, bespectacled,
squinting at thin veils of text that obscure this page,
as you mispronounce my name, I beg you:
remember the many eyes, lips, moons & life-
measuring coffee spoons that brought me here.

Future he-is-survived-by or he-was-a-widower-of,
do you shiver to see the one of me that is & is again today
a different one of me than yesterday? You cannot see me
through the change; else cannot see the change through me:
you are Vitangelo Moscarda's wife who,
in all their indifferent-loving years,
never warned him of his crooked nose.

"Oh, lots of other things!"


I write for you, beautiful cafe-syrup-farmers
tilling your fresh-ground: for you, I'm a monument
to exactness (even were I to contemplate the crème
de menthe, the tantric mango tea, the honeyed goblet).


I said to my profane mistress, I was more of you
in you than me &, absent years from the me-in-you,
I write to map that passed-by place, to recreate
my lost in-you in you, as well in me.

". . .a broken heart
will run to many editions."


Have I changed so much? How difficult making tea
one-handed, still possessing two: the cleansing-the-vessel,
the water-filling, bag-peeling, the dip, the watch, the pour,
the stir-- we who sip this tea cannot appreciate.


O, what songs for the red enchantress off by herself
in an unlit room- she who dances while blind men talk trivia
past her open door: they miss her mysterious,
sensuous spectacle as if she has made herself milkweed, &
they will not smell her fear, her fear, her. . . Yes,
for her: a stage in ink to spotlight her insatiate dance,
her ceremony of innocence, her soul abroad in such an ecstasy.


Surplus elegies also for that gray-fish-slick-eyed gentleman,
long dead & lingering, drunk on his nightly bitterness.
He nods, mumbles, conjuring misery with muttered anti-
sutras. Yet such a classic was his vintage model: sprightly,
vital, that forgotten man who once enjoyed the penny-
like taste off blues harps blown with the rapture &
wrath of gods. Young Horatio lost, he now haunts
darkened corners while, each night, I mourn his passing
in another of my linear psalms if I have no coins for Stroh's.


You Nine Billion Curses! You Dark & Strange Matter!
You Soundless Syllable, Smallest Particle, Subject & Object!
You debatable concept & barrier between the words of men-
I'll not invite you here: an Unmoved Movement.


"You taught me language & my
profit on't is, I know how to curse!"

"Goddamned lying son-of-a-bitch!": I'm said to have
said, age three. I must write to you, Grandfather,

teacher who gave me not freedom of language
but freedom from it. I write to you who memory
can't verify ever spoke these words I learned or any:
voice the gritty silver-orange stillness of old photographs.
I write from my inheritance, write what words you left me.


"[S]pirit is creative becoming."

I've changed so much since I began: I'm changing.
I smell death everywhere like fresh-cut grass
at start of rain. Each breath pulls more in.
Each breath: a transformation. I can't recognize
myself in words once written by a different man,
left unvarnished or not yet nailed in place.
Though I hoped to say more on somesuch &
whatnot, a stranger now to whom I can't write,
I must cling to my silence like a suspect in custody,
never to finish this treatise expressing what,
moments ago, I thought I knew of. . .

"Everything that
takes place in the spiritual world
takes place in me."

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