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Ace Boggess

Ace Boggess is author of six books of poetry, most recently Escape Envy (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2021). His writing has appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, Notre Dame Review, Harvard Review, and other journals. An ex-con, he lives in Charleston, West Virginia, where he writes and tries to stay out of trouble.

Natural Ink

Apply distilled white vinegar to black mold 

behind sheetrock like a monster in the closet. 


As six-percent acidity eats, leaving a trail of reddish spots 

& shadows, the dark stain resembles the Mothman


in sketches & on book covers. I can’t stop staring. 

Pareidolia, matrixing, like noticing ghosts in windows 


or Jesus drawn on browned ridges of toast—there’s nothing 

supernatural at play, no interdimensional message 


of foreboding. Clarity comes from a distance: 

the house will suffer more. We confront its future 


stench by tinge, or omen. We’re doomed, I joke, 

my laughter weakened by the work that must be done.

I Named It Deathbringer; My Mother Calls it Fred

The robot climbs a deep-end wall of the pool,

its brown square rising in blue, 

blurry like an optical illusion, 

mountain at highway’s end cloaking its shoulders in fog.

It resembles luggage floating up 

from a downed airplane,

bobbing at the surface before taking on water to descend.


Technology has advanced beyond my comprehension.

The newest phones snap photos 

so acute you can see scars of old wounds on a corpse.

On TV, I turn away from ads for cars that park themselves.

On Facebook: stories about sex machines so realistic 

they mimic human emotions & say No


A friend in her hometown tells me poopbots clean the sewers. 

Not much different, I imagine, 

than this diligent lump of circuitry 

crossing upslope like a tank riding a dune’s edge,

calming to watch like an hourglass 

although the sand, once fallen, disappears.

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