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A poem by Gale Acuff


At church they say that when I die I’ll go
to Heaven—and they should know, I guess. I
have to be good, though, and when I sin, I
have to pray to be forgiven. And I
can’t sin on purpose and get off the hook
although I’m not sure why—something about
being a hypocrite. After Sunday

 

School I walk back home and take off my clip
-on bow tie and put it in my pocket
and pull my shirttail out and blow bubble
gum and step into the woods to pee. I
come out again and can make out our house
at the top of the hill. I can’t live there
forever. I’ll have to graduate from
high school and maybe go to college and
graduate from it, too—hope it’s not hard
—and find a job and get married and have
children and then retire and be old
and play with my grandchildren and then die.
That’s when I’ll meet God—or meet Him again,
if I knew Him before I was born. I
don’t remember now but maybe I will
when I see Him. Or maybe I’ll just hang

 

until the Judgment Day, which means
lying and shriveling up and rotting
in my pine box in the ground until all’s
up. And then I’ll see Him. I’ll be a soul
by then, however—invisible, but
God will know it’s me. Without eyes I’ll see
Him as clearly as day. Into the Lake
of Everlasting Fire, he roars. Sure thing,
I say, but I was really hoping for
better. Suddenly I’m neck-deep in flames
—maybe they will purify my spirit.
And if it’s Eternity then there’s no
time to worry about. A soul can burn
—I know that now. Brother, do I ever.

Gale Acuff is an assistant professor at the Arab American University in Palestine. He has taught English in the Palestinian West Bank, the U.S., and China. His poetry has been published in Ascent, the Ohio JournalDescant, Poem, the Adirondack Review, the Coe Review, the Worcester Review, the Maryland Poetry Review, and many other journals. He has authored three books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel (BrickHouse Press, 2004), The Weight of the World (BrickHouse Press, 2006), and The Story of My Lives (BrickHouse Press, 2008).
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Down in the Country

A poem by Jack D. Harvey

(Published in The RavensPerch, September, 2017.)


I found dancing does,
roses waving on their stems,
hobos, vagrants of all sorts
roving around my back forty.
The does ate the roses, the rogues
kicked the does to kingdom come or
into the woods, I think.

Who knows?

Yesterday, a gorbellied tramp
came to my door or
knocked on my window.

Who remembers?

He said “Jesus, you’ve got some
sweet setup here, pal o’ mine,
wait’ll the nosy distant neighbors
see and hear about it,
look over the fences,
listen at the door,
tell the authorities.”

“Oh, go to hell, I don’t care,”
I said to him,
I am the god of
my house, my garden.

“Hell is my god,” said the tramp,
bursting into tears;
“my dear old dead dad
went there in a handbasket.
Pot Riley, they called him,
he drank a lot and
now I carry his pack,
on my back,
a sort of monument,
an empty sack of nothing
you can touch;
just memories and
paradigmatic gestures.”

After that lost unraveled language,
a locution, a fancy word,
I had to give him something;
something for nothing
is always nice.

I gave him a rose.


Jack D. Harvey’s poetry has appeared in Scrivener, Mind In Motion, The Comstock Review, The Antioch Review, Bay Area Poets Coalition, the University of Texas Review, the Beloit Poetry Journal, and a number of other on-line and in print poetry magazines over the years, many of which are probably kaput by now, given the high mortality rate of poetry magazines.The author has been writing poetry since he was sixteen and lives in a small town near Albany, New York. He was born and worked in upstate New York. He is retired from doing whatever he was doing before he retired. He once owned a cat that could whistle “Sweet Adeline”, use a knife and fork, and killed a postman.