2 poems — Gale Acuff

A MAN WHO MEANS BUSINESS

Tomorrow I have to go to Sunday
School and see Miss Hooker, she’s my
teacher and I hate loving her as much
as I do God since that’s idolatry
and she says that folks go to Hell for it
and there’s no future for me there in fire
and brimstone and surrounded by demons
but I can’t help myself worshiping her
and almost as if she created me
and I’d ask her for advice to keep me
out of Perdition but I’m really shy
and only 10 to her 25 but
if I don’t make a move soon I could lose
Miss Hooker forever to some other
guy more her age so what she needs to do
is wait until my body changes, it
will happen, my voice will go deeper and
I’ll have hair in ridiculous places
and I’ll have to shave, my face at least, and
fight something called hormones even though they’ll
win anyway, like I ought to battle

sin but, Hell, I was born with it. After
class last week I tried to tell her that I
love her and I did but she took it wrong,
she thought I meant like Jesus loves us all,
maybe even that I would die for her,
or at least the general way in which
God loves everybody. I love you, too,
Gale
, she said, and then she kissed me but not
on the lips though I even tried to help
her aim that way but her eyes were open
and if you kiss someone that style you’re not
in love the way it really signifies,
engagement and marriage and honeymoon
and babies. I might quit Sunday School for
a few years and look Miss Hooker up when
I’m no boy any longer but a man
who means business, maybe when I’m 18
to her 33, and get to know her
the way I’m sure I’ll get to know the gals
eventually. I wonder if she’ll
remember me. I wonder if I will.

***

?

I don’t want to die but when I do and
if I’m lucky enough to rate Heaven
I’ll wait there until Miss Hooker dies, she’s
my Sunday School teacher and 25
to my 10 so I can’t marry her now
and even in a few years she might turn
me down but up in Heaven everything’s
square again and even better than when
you’re born and nothing bad’s happened to you
yet and she’ll join me there but of course there’s
no marriage in Heaven, the Bible says
somewhere, I forget exactly where, I’d
ask Miss Hooker but I don’t want to lose
her by forgetting something she’s told me,
nothing makes Mother madder at Father
than that, and anyway I’ll be minding
my own business up there in Heaven, what
-ever it is, my business I mean, when

somehow I’ll get the word, Gabriel
might blow his horn with the news Miss Hooker’s
just arrived, so I’ll go see her when she
wakes up dead and maybe my face will be
the first she sees–Hello, Darling, I’ll say,
like Conway Twitty in that sweet sad song,
and that will be okay because when you’re
dead everybody’s the same age, and I’ll
help her to her feet, even though we’re all
souls up there doesn’t the Bible say we
get new bodies, the better to sweep her
off ’em, her feet I mean, and God will see
how crazy I am for her and if I’m
lucky Miss Hooker will see it, too, and
we’ll be the first married couple there, God
will show that He can change yet stay the same,
which is something He’s needed to do since
I was born, at least? That is the question.

***
Gale Acuff has had poetry published in Ascent, Ohio Journal, Descant, Adirondack Review, Concho River Review, Worcester Review, Maryland Poetry Review, Florida Review, South Carolina Review, Arkansas Review, Carolina Quarterly, Poem, South Dakota Review, Santa Barbara Review, Sequential Art Narrative in Education, and many other journals. He has authored three books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel (BrickHouse Press, 2004), The Weight of the World (BrickHouse, 2006), and The Story of My Lives (BrickHouse, 2008).