Poems by Gale Acuff




The rainbow I love for crossing over
to the other side of wherever I
am – if I stand on my head it’s smiling
and its lipstick colors mean something more
than irony the way they normally
are, that’s what I did today after Sun
-day School, stood on my head in my only
decent suit while a key and Tootsie rolls
and sticks of Juicy Fruit and a pencil
(a golf pencil, someday I’ll play for real
and use it to mark my near-perfect score)
and seven pennies I forgot I had
and for some reason my clip-on bow tie
clipped off and fell at my head and after
I was empty I landed on my Thom
McAns and then resurrected myself
you might say (I just did) and looked and
for a few moments saw those stars I’ve seen
before but which never stay but I bet
they do when I’m dead and the rainbow still
smiling until I shook my head and blinked
and blinked and turned it right-side up again,
or is it wrong-, or either way it’s right
but the trick is to get the two halves to
meet and make a circle which they used to
be, before I was born, when I was dead,
or is that before I died I was born?




At the end of Sunday School today we
said the Lord’s Prayer all together and
then Miss Hooker set us free but I hung
around to ask her to wait ’til I’m old
enough to ask her to marry me, I’m
10 now and she’s 25, and she said
Gale, I’ll think seriously about that,
and took off her glasses as she said so
and I believe her because she can’t lie,
she works for the church. It bought me some time

so that I can grow up and maybe when
I’m 18 I’ll ask her to marry me
and I’ll see what she says, I mean hear it,
but then again I guess I’ll see it, too,
not just her lips moving and if I zoom
in her teeth and tongue, too, and if there’s time
I’ll see her words in her eyes and maybe
me in there among them, fighting for room,
because I want her to myself and don’t
want anything in my way, not even
Yes. I guess I’m selfish like that but I
think I know what’s best for both of us though
I won’t push it but Mother says, Faint heart
ne’er won fair lady, and if that’s in
the Bible somewhere I still can’t find it
but I don’t know everything, just what’s

important even if I am just 10.
What I’ve got is what you call confidence
and it’s not false pride, I’m too good to be
proud. And God’s on my side because my heart’s
pure, pure for a sinner’s, I mean, which we
all are, Miss Hooker says so. And we’ll have
babies once I learn how or she shows me,
I really don’t know everything but
there’s a kind of knowledge you don’t have to
know about, you’re born with it, and mine’s been
around for ten years now and what it is

is that anyone can learn stuff from books
and experience and other people
but how many of us really know what’s
what when it comes to planning the future
and getting ready to die everyday
and go to Heaven? I guess Miss Hooker
will go first. I’ll mope a lot but life’s worth
death – if it’s not then why was I born? That’s
clever, if I do say so, but sometimes
smart’s not always true. That’s something to know.


Gale Acuff has had hundreds of poems published in several countries and is the author of three books of poetry. He has taught university English in the US, China, and Palestine.




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