the museum of americana

a literary review

Can’t Stop Thinking About the Prison—Poetry by Ace Boggess

in Moundsville, closed down; about the trip we took that began with serenity at the Hare Krishna Palace of Gold—lion statues, roses & peacocks, swans & candles—& ended in despair, walking damp, dirty catacombs a century of men (women, too) called home or hell or last stop on the freedom bus before arrival in the underworld. That was a prison like you see in movies, or nightmares when you’re escaping something you can’t get away from. The fortified brown-block walls could deflect a flood or a band of marauders before inviting them in. Within, you expect ghosts of memories at each turn as if you’ll see shivs & nooses coming for you. Gun ports, warning-shot holes high on walls—can’t appreciate the brutality without markers to cue an image. You should visit a place like this, a prison you leave after an hour, clutching a tee shirt to your chest like a pardon that could be quickly snatched away.

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Ace Boggess is author of five books of poetry—Misadventure, I Have Lost the Art of Dreaming It So, Ultra Deep Field, The Prisoners, and The Beautiful Girl Whose Wish Was Not Fulfilled—and the novels States of Mercy and A Song Without a Melody. His writing has appeared in Harvard Review, Notre Dame Review, Mid-American Review, Rattle, River Styx, and many other journals. He received a fellowship from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts and spent five years in a West Virginia prison. He lives in Charleston, West Virginia. His sixth collection, Escape Envy, is forthcoming from Brick Road Poetry Press in 2021.