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From Where Mercy Comes

By Ace Boggess

Saints would say god,

but through a filter.

Judges swear empathy,

then wield numbers like a code.

Poets offer love—

what they want, what they’ve lost.

Sun swears it’s the atmosphere that saves us.

Morticians know that nothing saves us.

Officers aren’t in the mercy business,

suggest it could be inconvenience.

The President, whichever one, sees

a steel fist not closing all the way.

My father would say god,

but through a pastor.

I prefer laughter—easier than forgiveness,

love or god, & with a better atmosphere than ours.


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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