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Ace Boggess

Swimming with Spider


Recluse in the pool does the backstroke,
eight appendages (which the arms, which legs?) 
flailing for purchase on emptiness, air. 
Coming up, I witness spasms so close 
I could die before panicking in my place of serenity.

I feel no danger in the water, drift coolly in unconcern.
What to do when racing laps against a foe? 
Look around, find no weapons—shoe, book, 
can of hairspray, RAID—but clicking minor waves, 
space, distance from wall & ladder.
I back away like a seal sunning its belly.

Eight tea-brown sticks vibrate like four tuning forks—
lulling, pleading, desperate.

Won’t turn my back until head bumps steel of step, &
then I’m up, out, ready to run from the spider 
that stole my calm to carry to its chlorine grave. 




Anxiety Time 

It’s like taking color photos of black-&-white subjects. 
It’s like playing poker 
when hands you don’t bet make you tremble.

I enjoy concerts, dread the audience.
I go to museums to mock the Pollocks,
worry humorless guards eye me like a thief.

I want to eat, love, sing, be. 
I want good times—
why are they so challenging? 

All I savor—pizza, movies, kissing—
requires something from me
like placing an order or saying hello to strangers.

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