Modern Life: A Tragedy

Must go outside beyond the concrete square where I smoke long cigarettes & cough, pluck oak pollen from my hair & cough, spit, cough—not the virus, I tell myself. A chilly, ash-cloud day in early May, West Virginia’s stay-home order lifted, & I must do human things: shop, pump gas, spend time with lips on skin. Beautiful nightmare: acting normal while, inside, icicles break from spine, impaling every nerve—also not the virus, although it has its moments forcing knife to throat. Were my life a tragedy, it wouldn’t be the madness of Lear but forty-eight years of Macbeth’s recognition as the woods drew near that prophecies filling him with doom-mind & loneliness were true, approaching their execution, & his, too.

Ace Boggess

Ace Boggess is author of three books of poetry, most recently Ultra Deep Field (Brick Road, 2017), and the novel A Song Without a Melody (Hyperborea, 2016). His poetry has appeared in Harvard Review, Rhino, North Dakota Quarterly, and many other journals. He lives in Charleston, West Virginia.