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Summer-Fall '23

Psychology Lesson
Ace Boggess

I watched my father those two years he drove around
with a camper affixed to his red pickup.

Two years to work & back, grocery store, barber,
the comic-book shop where he dropped me off

for an hour while he did whatever
divorced fathers do in the interim.

Two years of not going camping,
a turtle lugging a second shell.

He did it, he said, so he could leave if he wanted,
quit his job, go anywhere, & still have a place to live.

It was the shiny escape hatch he didn’t intend to use,
a safety valve, parachute hung on a hook

in the cargo hold. Two years of what all of us do:
plotting getaways, mapping highways out of town,

readying for when the stink of burnt office coffee
is too much, or the idea of having to replace

another foot of broken sewer line finally breaks us.
We keep these schemes to ourselves—

my father’s more flamboyant,
brazen, a subject of jest, his just-in-case.


Ace Boggess is author of six books of poetry, most recently Escape Envy. His writing has appeared in Indiana Review, 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. His seventh collection, Tell Us How to Live, is forthcoming in 2024 from Fernwood Press. 

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