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Poetry by Gale Acuff

Bread Alone

When I die I’m going to go to Hell
for my many sins, if I die today
I go as well even though I’m only
ten years old, that’s what a righteous sinner
I am you might say and speaking of sin
it can’t be all bad to be such fun and
that’s exactly what I told my Sunday 
School teacher today in the parking lot just
after everybody left church service
for lunch at Butterworth’s All-You-Can-Eat
but before she could comment I asked why
she hadn’t joined them and she said Gale,
man doesn’t live by bread alone and I’m on
a diet. I say that’s ugly as sin

***

Venial

I don’t want to die and I mean ever
because I’ll go to Hell, I sin a load
for ten years old and the Hell of it is
I enjoy it and I’m good at it and
above all it can be a lot of fun
and take the edge off righteousness and when
-ever my Sunday School teacher tells me
that she’s praying for me I tell her I
hope not too righteously–that’s always good
for a frown or three from her and one day
she’ll marry me even though she’s fifteen
years older than I am and I’ll have her
frowning at me whenever I want to
be kept honest. And that’s why I love sin.

***

Goobers

I hope that wherever He is Jesus
is satisfied – He promised to come back,
that was over 2,000 years ago,
so where the Hell is He? That’s what I asked
my Sunday School teacher after class this
morning and she winced, wince is a word which
you find in books, and the other word, Hell,
it’s a big word, too, I think, then she sat
down and not simply sat down but sat her
self down on her big orange plastic chair like
she was sitting on Trump’s head but any
-way she pretty soon composed herself, that’s
one that means not writing words or music 
but in this case calmed herself down as if
I hadn’t said a damn thing and then smiled
as if at the beginning of revenge
like those actors do on TV and then
frowned like crazy one long, long frown, then said
Gale, I’ll pray for you that you forgive your
-self for those words and that God will, too,
and Jesus and the Holy Ghost and while
I’m at it me as well, run on home now,
I’ll see you next week, so I said Yes ma’am
but didn’t run, I walked, So there I thought,
but when I got home there was Miss Hooker
sitting on the back porch wearing only
a bikini – not the back porch, I mean
she was wearing a bikini, the back
porch wasn’t, all it had on was that coat
of crummy paint it’s always worn and it
was fading, too much sun, which may happen
to Miss Hooker except that my eyes played
tricks on me and it wasn’t Miss Hooker
sitting there but Great Grandmother shelling
beans, goobers she calls ’em, and she’s been dead
ten years. Which just goes to show you something,
maybe it was Jesus with a new joke.

About the author

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

Gale has taught university English courses in the US, China, and Palestine.

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Created in 2014, Flashes is a privately owned literary website. We publish short stories, non-fiction, flash fiction and poetry. Our goal is to give talented writers a platform to showcase their creativity, with an emphasis on original voice, innovative style and challenging plots.

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