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Another Diagnosis

—Ace Boggess

Another Diagnosis

Her father’s in his third week in the hospital, & 

physicians have found

so many things wrong with him.

I’ve run out of fingers to count them on,

also swear words & words to comfort,

depending on what she needs.

Her father’s an old house,

well-designed but entropic.

To fix a leak, one must tear through a wall.

Behind it, seven hidden problems wait.

Perforated bowel, sepsis,

atrial fibrillation, & congestive heart failure?

Check, check, check, & check.

Now, one of his doctors says she’s found cirrhosis,

his liver a porcelain doll heading 

for the floor & irreparable breaking.

He’s started cursing in French

with a West Virginia accent,

allowing him an extra layer of contempt.

What does one do when the machine still runs

but all its parts are bad? I tell her 

he’ll drive it until the wheels come off,

which sounds cliched, but I’m doing my best here,

my vocabulary of hope limited by lack of experience.

I’m better with frustration language &

beginning to think it’s time I should learn French.


ACE BOGGESS is the author of six books of poetry, most recently Escape Envy. His writing has appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, Notre Dame Review, Harvard Review, Mid-American Review, and other journals. An ex-con, he lives in Charleston, West Virginia, where he writes and tries to stay out of trouble.

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