"What Is to Be Done with the Prisoners?"
by Ace Boggess

—Victor Hugo, Ninety-Three

The mind has space for just so much,
most of it long cemented in with mud,
unwanted residue. I prefer not
to waste what’s left recalling the angry ones,
the ones full of secrets, others that tried &
failed beneath the downward press of collected little rules.
I have to shout sometimes to oust them like slinking coyotes.
There’s the one who smuggled heroin, &
over there the man who suffered from boiling
hair grease thrown across his back.
Must I reject each man by his turn in the queue?
I didn’t want them hiding in corners,
waiting to leap or rob me of time
I could spend thinking about tulips
unfolding their reds & splashing perfumes;
the fawn rocking like a hobbyhorse
crossing brittle leaves; the moon, the stars;
the sexual habits of minor celebrities—
anything better than this. These men
stalk me with their zip guns
or pass a contraband cigarette
for me to light with batteries &
blades. I, too, am one of those
shimmering specters I try to forget.
I limp shackled across the stone floor
of a thought. Oh, go away.
You block the sunset with your orange coat.

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