Issue 4,  Poetry

Combustible by Gale Acuff

“Everyday is a and the World…” by Marilyn Whitehorse

Miss Hooker’s my Sunday School teacher and
she tells me that I’m going to go to
Hell if I don’t get saved before I die,
which could happen at any time, dying
that is, then I’d wake up dead in Heaven
just in time to be judged, if there’s any
time there, that is, fit for Heaven or Hell,
one or the other, You can’t very well
be in both places at once, she tells me,
but I didn’t tell her, because talking
back’s a sin and I sin heaps anyway
–I didn’t tell Miss Hooker that Heaven
and Hell together make life on earth, I
just want to get along and anyhow
I’m only 10 to her 25 and
it’s a sin to embarrass old people
and I also didn’t tell her that I
don’t really want to die at all and not
even if I was sure that Heaven was
waiting, or do I mean is for wasIn
the beginning was the Word, and I’m far
away from it now and unless it’s God’s
it doesn’t seem to have the same meaning
for me but then I guess that’s why I’d best
get saved, to make the Word so again and
come to think of it I’ve forgotten what
the Word is unless it’s God but lately
it seems to me to be more Miss Hooker
than anything else, forget that’s two words,
if I knew her first name then I’d nail it
but at night before I fall asleep it’s
Baby and Darling and Sweetheart and Dear
and Honey and Sugar and Cutiepie 
and Sugarlips, my favorite, because it
means that I’d kiss her dead on the mouth if
only God would answer my prayer and
something tells me that He won’t and neither
would I if He asked me, that’s fair enough.
Maybe when I’m 18 to Miss Hooker’s
33 I’ll have better luck but then
last night in a nightmare Miss Hooker said
Lips that haven’t been saved will never kiss
mine. But we’ll see about that when we’re both
dead–though I’m sure to go to Hell maybe
I can snatch a kiss before God punts me
into the Lake of Everlasting Fire,
not that I’m not burning already, some
anyhow, smoldering without really
being on fire, or fixing to flame up
a little more each day, the kind of heat
that makes for babies somehow–I don’t know
just how yet but I suspect Miss Hooker
does and I pray that she’ll wait and show me
when I’m old enough. It’s a beginning. 


Gale Acuff has had poetry published in Ascent, Chiron Review, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, Poem, Adirondack Review, Maryland Poetry Review, Florida Review, Slant, Poem, Carolina Quarterly, Arkansas Review, South Dakota Review, and many other journals. Gale has authored three books of poetry, all from BrickHouse Press: Buffalo NickelThe Weight of the World, and The Story of My Lives

In the topside world, Marilyn Whitehorse teaches academic writing at Kapiolani Community College in Honolulu, HI. In the river that flows beneath Marilyn is an author, photographer, and collage artist. 

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