Inmate Work Crew
Amid tall grass & wildflowers in the median,
orange-vested over orange—one shade a warning
not to run them over, the other just a warning:
danger. Watch them stagger their uneven path,
freed from cells, not free.
They look like zoo beasts loosed by a storm:
feral, strange. They don’t belong.
They make of this landscape a painting
that features forests set ablaze.
With their sticks, they pick up fast-food sacks,
soda bottles, plastic shopping bags, &
cigarette butts they slip into pockets
after guards have turned away. Treats for later.
Little escapes. What there is in a world
where even weeds smell like bleach &
stand up straight, mimicking prison bars.
My Father’s Music: The Oak Ridge Boys
in his baby-blue pickup with bench seats
no shoulder straps or cellphones
restricting contact like glittering cages
I’d lean against him while he drove
close enough that I could smell
his English Leather & feel oscillations
thrumming as he sang
along in almost-harmony
El-vi-ra El-vi-ra his voice wavering
like a foghorn between baritone & bass
I could sleep then on a long drive
my childhood lullaby
a country choir in the fading light
Ace Boggess is author of three books of poetry, most recently Ultra Deep Field (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2017), and the novel A Song Without a Melody (Hyperborea Publishing, 2016). 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.