The Late Pablo Neruda
they dig him up because his silence
booms as loudly as the shells of Pinochet
they dig him up because if there were a murderer
he might have been close he might have heard
a final verse whispered to the drawing sheet
a last gasp a prayer a sonnet filled with desolation
they dig in hope he will write the denouement
to soften tension from his falling action
even in desiccated fingers dents of pens
wait to fill again the world with language
through old soil the diggers as they hope exhume
a last song for Matilde & the sea that moved him
or a psalm of protest denouncing those who fail
to note distinctions between tanks & temple bells
“With People Who Know How to Revenge Themselves
and Stand Up for Themselves in General, How Is It Done?”
—Dostoevsky, Notes from the Underground
I’d like to say justice elevates the striking hand.
I’d like to say, God, it felt good, that day
on the playground when I tore open his scalp
swinging my Star Wars lunchbox
(they were metal then, with raised seams
like tin knuckles right for gashing).
I don’t remember his name, why he stole
or punched me in between the shoulder blades.
I picture him headed like a cartoon wolf:
teeth jagging, tongue lashing a pendulum of spit.
I’d like to say I was the better man that day,
or better boy, not even a teen spewing hormones &
aggression. How he cried out, how he cried….
I’d like to say he deserved it, he needed a lesson,
or the hole wasn’t so big. I’d like to
as I’d like to say that, decades later,
I no longer see the blood—not even
cartoon blood less red than black—
ejaculating from his wound like liquid soap
dyed the many colors of regret.
ACE BOGGESS is the author of two books of poetry: The Prisoners (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2014) and The Beautiful Girl Whose Wish Was Not Fulfilled (Highwire Press, 2003). He is an ex-con, ex-husband, ex-reporter, and completely exhausted by all the things he isn't anymore. His writing has appeared in Harvard Review, Mid-American Review, Atlanta Review, RATTLE, River Styx, Southern Humanities Review and many other journals. He currently resides in Charleston, West Virginia.