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—as well the novels States of Mercy and A Song Without a Melody. His writing appears in Notre Dame Review, The Laurel Review, River Styx, Rhino, North 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.
As a child, I swallowed a nickel.
My parents, panicking as if the coin
were valuable & toxic, addressed the nearest
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.