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American Dream

By Ace Boggess

Doc puts her on a new drug—

resolves two thirds of her problems

(doesn’t sound like much unless you’ve been there)

while inflicting a fifth of side effects.

She’s happy (on a parallel trajectory)

until samples run out, insurance won’t pay.

She couldn’t afford the pills if she left her apartment

for the streets & survived on stolen crackers from Wendy’s.

She fills out forms. Denied. She fills out more,

supplies documents, writes a letter pleading for help

from the manufacturer, a company not in the business

of helping. The doctor tries her on other drugs,

jotting down notes on ineffective this & counterproductive that.

He telephones the company, discusses calmly, argues,

while she twitches, sweats, scratches, burns—

angry, hollow. Still: Denied.

At last, the doctor calls to say

she’s approved for a year’s worth of the miracle drug.

She won’t the lottery without bad choices.

It might not last, but she’s happy (on a parallel trajectory).


About the Author

Ace Boggess is author of six books of poetry, most recently Escape Envy (Brick Road, 2021). His writing has appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, Rattle, Harvard Review, and other journals. An ex-con, he lives in Charleston, West Virginia, where he writes and tries to stay out of trouble.


Poetry, The River

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