• Gale Acuff

Gale Acuff, two poems

Dirty Joke

I love God a Hell of a lot more than

I love Satan or myself or any

-body else or anything I swear to

Miss Hooker after Sunday School class so

she keeps me after and has me erase

the board and straighten the chairs and empty

the trash and stack the hymnbooks and wash her

desk and chair, for good measure, she says, that's

from the Bible if I'm not mistaken,

shaken, not stirred, no, that's James Bond, then it's

pressed and rolled down, or rolled down and pressed, or

something like that, Miss Hooker hit us with

that last Sunday, I'm only ten years old

but what's happened to my memory? and

when I finished, and to be honest I

was hoping she might pay me for my work

but I guess that's why they call it charity,

somehow you get suckered for working for

free--when I finished Miss Hooker said not

to use a bad word the way that I did

which is the way that Satan does, she meant

that if I say Hell in class I'd better

say it the right way, even after class,

so I had to ask her why Satan must

ever say Hell like a bad word, I mean

he's Satan for Christ's sake, better than sin

in some strange way, I mean he doesn't

need to curse, he's already in Hell and

already damned for Eternity, all

Eternity like Miss Hooker says, why

say the same damn thing especially if

you're not human and being human's what

counts? At first Miss Hooker looked angry, then

I could tell she was just about to cry

so I tried to interrupt and make her

happy, I said Miss Hooker, wanna hear

a dirty joke? and before she could say

nix I punched her, I mean with the punch line:

A white horse fell in a mud puddle and

then I started laughing, it really is

just about the funniest damn joke in

the world but when I was through Miss Hooker

looked at me like I'd hypnotized her, which

I wasn't trying to do but maybe when

we're married and on our honeymoon, she's

25 and I'm--like I say and it's

a fact--only 10, but I can wait if

she can and even if she can't, that's how

much I love her--Miss Hooker said, and these

are her very words, I don't get it, Gale.

Then I wept. There's no saving some poor souls.


Today Miss Hooker told me she loved me,

my Sunday School teacher, I mean I fell

asleep in class for a split-second and

she was looking into my eyes, both of

them, and I saw me there, two of me be

-cause she has two eyes and both good and so

doubled-up like that I reacted

to her words of love, there were three of them

--I love you--not counting Gale, the fourth but

I couldn't describe where we were inside

my dream, at the ball park or in a bed

-room or having corn dogs and waffle fries

at the Korn Dog & Waffle Fries King, some

day I'll get my first part-time job there, I

don't know what that means not knowing where words

are spoken that mean lots but then I jerked

awake to see the real Miss Hooker in

our portable classroom where when you walk

across the linoleum and plywood

floor your steps sound like religion speaking

and she was giving me dirty looks, not

obscene but I mean wholly angry and

said, Welcome back, Gale, I love you, too, and

my classmates were hooting or was it just

angels. Now I hate her guts. She's lying.

Gale Acuff has had poetry published in Ascent, McNeese Review, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, Poem, Adirondack Review, Weber: The Contemporary West, MarylandPoetry Review, Florida Review, South Carolina Review, Carolina Quarterly, Arkansas Review, South Dakota Review, Orbis, 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).

He has taught tertiary-level English in the US, China, and the Palestinian West Bank. He currently teaches in the Department of Modern Languages at Arab American University in Zababdeh, Palestine.

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