“How Did Your Father Spend His Spare Time?”​

—internet questionnaire

It was the 70s, & I too young to learn gamble.
Over a pool table’s golden felt, my father
flung cards that slid like figure skaters
prancing to a perfect halt. His friends formed a circle,
telling jokes & smoking bland cigarettes
that smelled of the forest in a burning year.
I loved to watch them pitch the red,
white & blue plastic chips into the middle.
Each disc, a piece of the twenty-dollar buy-in—
not a fortune even then—meant comradery,
gamesman— & one-upmanship, escape.
This was how I wanted to be like my father—
festive & playful, willing to risk—
for the few minutes he let me watch
before sending me off to a less mysterious room.

Ace Boggess 

Ace Boggess is the author of two books of poetry: The Prisoners (Brick Road Poetry Press,2014) and The Beautiful Girl Whose Wish Was Not Fulfilled (Highwire Press, 2003).  He is an ex-con, ex-husband, ex-reporter and completely exhausted by all the things he isn’t anymore. His writing has appeared in Harvard ReviewMid-American ReviewAtlanta ReviewRATTLERiver StyxSouthern Humanities Review and many other journals.  He lives in Charleston, West Virginia.