Why I Can’t Draw Portraits

I suck at stick figures: they lean & sag
like fuzzy old couples hiding out in their summer homes.

I never saw myself sketching trees, saying Breathe,
breathe, while I faked the leaves.

Those pictures of rabbits in backs of comic books?
The ones with captions like Are you an Artist?

I couldn’t trace them to their warrens.
Turtles, too, eluded me. Their lines

ran faster than my pen. During school years,
I managed a pretty mushroom cloud, &

I think I depicted the soda can, not quite fizzing.
During my stay in rehab, I painted a likeness of my right hand,

palm up, cupping blood that was also mine,
nightmarish vision I survived—as close as I’ve come

to anything human: face with a story &
mouth with which to tell it, eyes reflected back at me

as if from darkness of undergrowth
that could topple a man afraid to call for help.





Ace Boggess (002)_editedAce Boggess is author of four books of poetry, most recently I Have Lost the Art of Dreaming It So (Unsolicited Press, 2018) and Ultra Deep Field (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2017). His poetry has appeared in North Dakota Quarterly, River Styx, cream city review, and American Literary Review, among others. He received a fellowship from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts and spent five years in a West Virginia prison. He lives in Charleston, West Virginia.