Archive for the 'Gale Acuff' Category

Circa 1965

My mother’s baking cookies while I read
a Hawkman comic in the living room.
Behind his newspaper Father’s fallen
asleep in his chair in the corner. My
sisters are upstairs with Elvis Presley,
his music, anyway, and my brother
sits on the front porch with the girl next door.
I want to put the comic down, announce
that we’re a happy family, and life
has meaning, but I don’t know how. Tonight
we’ll watch Ed Sullivan together, and
the Beatles, for their second appearance.
My sisters will sway and smile to the beat.
My brother will take his comb from his hip
pocket and try to stretch his buzz below
the tops of his ears. Father will nod off
but I’ll wake him for the animal act,
if there is one. If not, I’ll let him doze.
Mother will read something called The Bell Jar
and sneak looks over the top, at Paul, John,
and George, then say, I still like Ringo best.
Later that night I’ll dream I have a band,
my three best friends and I, and we sing
and play and everywhere we go girls try
to get our autographs and rip our clothes.
But tomorrow I go to school again
–English, Arithmetic, History, Health,
Science, and PhysEd, and some drawing.
And maybe a filmstrip. And some singing.
But for now the future is the future
though I move from panel to panel, and
Father will snort himself awake and turn
the newspaper pages, and the King’s song
will come to the end of another groove.
Mother will take the cookies from the stove
and let them cool, then spill them on a plate.
These things take time and that’s what’s sacrificed
that we may live. There’s no going back now
even if we wanted to. I can’t stop
my first tear. More come. Now I’m sobbing and
Father wakes. What the damn’ hell, he says. Why
are you crying, boy
? I dunno, I say.
I can’t help myself, Sir–there is a God.
Mother comes in from the kitchen–I thought
I heard something
, she says. What’s the matter?
Brother and his gal look in the window
while Elvis croons Are you lonesome tonight?
See here, Father says. You’re a big boy. Too
big to cry. Nine years old if you’re a day.
, Mother says. The cookies are burning!
She runs back into the kitchen. Fifteen
minutes of weeping and I feel better.
I’m sorry, I say, but God bless us all.
Well, yes, Father says, picking up the sports.
What you said. He clears his throat as he hides
behind the paper again. Mother beats
another batch of dough–I hear the spoon
rub against the sides of the bowl. Brother
is kissing his girlfriend. Right smack on the lips.
Upstairs the Beatles sing From Me to You.
One day we’ll all be skeletons–I mean
without flesh and blood at all. We’ll be just
what holds it all together, thanks to God.
Now we’re not dead. Now we live forever.
I finish Hawkman–the bad guy lost. For
Father, stocks are up and the home team won.
Mother hasn’t burned another cookie
and Brother looks happy, as if he knows
what love is and always will. My sisters
are singing A Hard Day’s Night. We’re never
going to die, even when we do. God
bless us all–but this time I don’t say it.
When I’m home, everything seems to be right.
Gale Acuff

Contrasting Views

"Literalism is a feature of boorish translators." Cicero "The clumsiest literal translation is a thousand times more useful than the prettiest paraphrase." Nabokov

The Faerie Queene

"John Ashbery said reading the Faerie Queene was like reading an endless beautiful comic strip." Kenneth Koch

Sigmund Freud

"Everywhere I go, I find a poet has been there before me."


December 2021

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