"Please Press One for Condolences," by Ace Boggess

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


tongue-dumb &
butter-lipped
I don’t know
what to say


we weren’t close
I mean we were
but no


now how do I open
the encrypted file
of our relationship?


is there a Part B
Paragraph X
I can initial 
to express
my grief for yours?


must the lawyers
be involved?


doubt-struck
word-robbed
I feel the same
as in a store
when some stranger
thinks I work there
asks for help


I want to answer
shower curtains?
aisle seventeen
to offer I’m
saddened that
your father’s dead


instead I manage 
a grunt or less
as I point
to the woman
in her glowing
orange vest


modern life 
can be too gruesome
for the weak


wouldn’t all of us
rather show kindness?
wouldn’t we play
“I’ll Fly Away”
on our guitars?


finger-frozen
line-lost
I can’t even
send a message
as if I’m last
on Earth &


any decent note
I type will go
no further
than my thumb
not arrogant enough
to praise its calm 
coolly clicking 
singsong voice