After-Hours Pizza – by Ace Boggess

We smoked a joint once the doors were locked.
My lovely redhead friend, the manager, &
the blond gay man who sold me coke—
how they liked to end their work day
after six hundred sides of banana peppers
served to poor folks who tipped too much &
the more well-off who salvaged all their pennies.

I arrived a minute before midnight,
just in time to sneak inside. Then: closing,
clean-up, rolling papers, burn. The others
needed a ride, & I earned pizza off the books,
went home stoned & full, afraid to make left turns.
The air smelled of sizzled pepperoni,
that other scent like pines aflame.

All of us were doing our best, getting by,
everyone running a scam in the year after 9/11,
a time when boundaries no longer told their lies,
when all choices seemed okay. & they were,
weren’t they? Must have been. Otherwise,
how might we seal off cracks in our eyelids
so we never need observe such sights again?


Ace Boggess is author of the novel A Song Without a Melody (Hyperborea Publishing, 2016) and two books of poetry, most recently, The Prisoners (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2014). Forthcoming is a third poetry collection: Ultra Deep Field (Brick Road). His writing has appeared in Harvard Review, Mid-American Review, RATTLE, River Styx, North Dakota Quarterly and many other journals. He lives in Charleston, West Virginia.