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by Ace Boggess
​ ©2020  Wolf Freeborn
Ace Boggess is author of five books of poetry—MisadventureI Have Lost the Art of Dreaming It SoUltra Deep FieldThe Prisoners, and The Beautiful Girl Whose Wish Was Not Fulfilled—as well the novels States of Mercy and A Song Without a Melody. His writing appears in Notre Dame ReviewThe Laurel ReviewRiver StyxRhinoNorth Dakota Quarterly, and 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.
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Value Lesson 


As a child, I swallowed a nickel.
My parents, panicking as if the coin
were valuable & toxic, addressed the nearest
             emergency room
where the doctor said to them, It will pass &

nothing he could do & not to worry, &
to me, Shouldn’t do that
            although he knew 
I was the sort of kid who would.

Exploratory, hoping to devour
                  understanding, I learned 
there is no medicine, no cure for anything;
only fears & short words to relieve them.

          One might remove the bullet from a wound, 
but not the gun from a stranger’s hand.

            Could have all the answers, 
but whom to share them with 
not already in possession?
             That’s called conversation,
therapy maintaining its amateur status,

whereas I was five cents richer & 
            had no idea
what my body might be worth.





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