“Intergalactic” © Tybee Maitri


Gratitude List #20

Forgive me when I praise my wealth
of bedroom clutter:

dusty sneakers I never wear
kept as weapons in the constant war
with spiders on the off-white walls
standing out like Ahab’s coin;

folded towels on a Rubbermaid tub
because I have nowhere to put them;

hand-torch & battery-operated fan
beside my bed, handy
when the power fails;

DVDs stacked tight on shelves—
I collect them to remember joy
of having watched these films &
the other odd joy, in owning them,
of never having to watch these films again;

a bottle of lotion—vaguely lavender;

a tube of cortisone ointment;

empty bottles that once contained
over-the-counter pills to battle
allergies, headaches, reflux;

the boxes filled with books—
my books—I haven’t sold,
clogging chairs in which no one sits.

Praise, too, those books, poetry & prose—
they take up room, filling gaps
in my disorderly fortress,

also in me, where the clutter exists
as memories, hopes, shortcomings,
thoughts of times I failed
or fell down a manhole while high or drunk,
or should’ve made love
to a stranger but didn’t
because I didn’t
know how to speak my holy name aloud.

Of course, there are spaces.
I praise those, &
will continue writing
until I somehow fill each one with words.


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, 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. His seventh collection, Tell Us How to Live, is forthcoming in 2024 from Fernwood Press.

Tybee Maitri is a mixed media artist. They studied Studio Art at Simmons University. They live, create, and are healing in the Appalachian Mountains of the North Carolina with their cat Muchini.