What Good Is Freedom Without Joy?

question asked by Jennifer Hall-Farley

I’ll tell you the opposite:
laughter in chains,
stepping through the cell door
each morning as if in some
70s sitcom, singing
Talking Heads or Paul Simon
until the other cons
reach their saturation point or sing along.

We craft our joy where we find ourselves
as if building a hand fan
from brochures on damnation – red-
inked but as breezy
as a circular from the ice-cream shop.

We hurt if we want.

We burn ourselves with loneliness.

We sleep, although
there are plenty of nights
when laughter hardly quiets,
anguish slips in like an enemy scout.
Don’t worry.
I’ll take first watch.
You, when you need it most,
can have first rest.

Ace Boggess is author of six books of poetry, most recently Escape Envy. His writing has appeared in 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.

See more of Ace's work in 11.2 and 1.2 and 4.4

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