Brick Road Poetry Press

poetry made to entertain, amuse, and edify

The mission of Brick Road Poetry Press is to publish and promote poetry that entertains, amuses, edifies, and surprises a wide audience of appreciative readers.  We are not qualified to judge who deserves to be published, so we concentrate on publishing what we enjoy. Our preference is for poetry geared toward dramatizing the human experience in language rich with sensory image and metaphor, recognizing that poetry can be, at one and the same time, both familiar as the perspiration of daily labor and as outrageous as a carnival sideshow.

Poetry by Ace Boggess from The Prisoners

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“What Right Have I to Be Happy?”


                                    —Jean Valjean in Les Misèrables


I could spend hours

reading poetry to the Institutional Magistrate,

though my arguments already

have enough complications

to keep him hypnotized by strobe lights

of language, all the technical jibber-jabber

that lets my clients believe

their jailhouse lawyer really knows

how to conduct an autopsy of form.

Of course they also realize in all likelihood,

whatever rule it is, they broke it,

so just want a little mercy,

as do I.  But I wear a scarf

of self-pity to match my socks

handmade from discontentment:

I lost my wife to another man,

my house to my wife,

my city to a dark wave of junky nostalgia

black as a raven’s beard.  Too,

my wife lost her lover’s unborn child,

which made me sad for her, &

for me—which made no sense &

had me telling her God is an asshole,

praise His name (Not that it helps,

the one or the other, or the One).

Sometimes I wonder if

all at once a man must pay

for every outrageous act in a long life

as though the Honorable Circuit Judge

read every festering page

from my file & told me, “So,

you were loyal to your wife but cheated

on a 7th-grade social studies test

although you knew the answers,”

then brought his gavel down

with a thundering sigh.




“What Was Your First Day of Incarceration Like?”


                                    —Cody McClung


When Mr. Kurtz says, “The horror, the horror,”

he’s lucky.  The story’s over, & so is he,

no longer trapped in his nightmare world

or the existential one.  Still alive &

commencing my journey deep into the dark continent

of the future, I wrapped in a tattered baby blue blanket &

strained to shake off my past:  the opiate detox

fear & trembling unlike Kierkegaard’s, without a faith

in anything.  In a medical isolation cell,

I paced & cursed & purged, bent over the steel john

as if I lost something there:  a wedding band

or matched set of dreams.  Left alone, buried alive

in a cave-in of steel & stone, I didn’t possess 

so much as a pen to write I want to die!

The real Hell isn’t other people as Sartre supposed; no,

it’s absence, loneliness, genuine being-for-itself,

like that:  locked up with just the ugliness

of one’s thoughts.  Unable to cry, crying out

unheard, I lay face down on the cold concrete,

spying through a crack beneath the door &

praying any human foot would pass:

an angel of mercy, invisible friend,

a stranger’s voice in the wilderness of night.


 “But When They Drop the Bad News on You, Then What the Hell Will You Do?”


                                    —David Baldacci, The Simple Truth


Say to yourself, At least it can’t get worse, although it does.

Your victim shows, curses you with eyes swearing

your many pretty wounds are glitter glass

compared with diamonds shimmering in his skin.

“Twenty-five,” the judge says, while you wonder if that’s days

or weeks.  Then in a few hours or maybe a year

your lawyer develops cancer of the ear & no longer takes your calls.

Your friends lose themselves to madness, heroin,

something else they caught while petting spider monkeys at the zoo.

By now you’re so exhausted when your wife requests,

“Let’s separate,” your mind sighs, Whew,

we already have, until you figure out she’s not

measuring space between but what cement she’s using

for the break.  All you can pray as you kneel

to gather your entrails off the floor

is, I hope he’s a priest, so at least someone might be there

to pour the shots of liquor at your wake.



 “Can They Do That?”


                                    —Johnny Redmond


They can feed you pulverized bones

of rat, but not the eyes or hair.

They can softly submerge your face in the sink,

never the toilet without a showing of cause.

They can sing country western songs

all night off key as you try to sleep,

rap on Fridays, rhythm & blues in the afternoon,

though heavy metal would violate your rights.

They can laugh at your inadequacy.

They can kick you, but only when you’re down.

They’ll seduce your wife with white roses &

tales of your exploits floundering

like a bear with no arms & broken wings.

On a good day they might leave you alone

(a good day for you, for they have none).

They can spin you in a centrifuge,

dress you in dresses, dance on your grave,

can tie your shoelaces in a knot

(don’t say they cannot) then lock

your fingers in a Chinese puzzle

so you struggle until you disappear,

a Theseus walking threadless into a maze.


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