By: Gale Acuff
Miss Hooker says I’m going to go to Hell
if I don’t stop sinning but I don’t give
a damn is what I told her although I
really said darn and that was bad enough,
I thought I’d damned-near killed her, her eyes popped
out even farther than they bulge already
and her face went red, red to match her hair.
You watch your language, young man, in the house
of the Lord–she meant church but we’re in
a trailer because our congregation’s
too damn cheap to build a room addition
or whatever the Hell it’s called onto
our church. She caught me reading Superman
during Sunday School class. I’d stashed him in
my hymnbook but I guess I showed too much
interest in our lesson to suit her
so she came from behind her big pine desk
to the back of the room and held out her
hand and told me to hand it over, my
comic book I mean, not her hand, which she
already had, so I did. She’s bigger
than I am, I may be a sinner but
I’m not stupid, and I said, Sure, but don’t
fold the pages back when you read it, which
was the wrong thing to say and got me thrown
out on the two-by-four steps and the door
closed behind and I mean as good as locked.
Sit out there and pray, she said through the slats.
So I tried it but I was too angry,
comic books don’t grow on trees and I don’t
get any weekly allowance as it is
so I fish out Coke bottles from ditches
at two cents a pop. 2 X 6 =
12, and a penny tax, that’s a comic
book since the damn things went up two cents last
year but that’s life in 1962.
Father teaches history in high school
and Mother sells brushes door-to-door
and they don’t come to church anyway, they
sleep late Sunday mornings. I wish I could.
I was just at the point where Lex Luthor
was going to pull some kryptonite from
a lead-lined box and zap Superman so
if I don’t ask God to forgive my sin
and Miss Hooker, too, to do likewise, then
I’ll never know the end of the story.
I need her to give back the thing I’d know.
It can’t be death–that’s mine and Miss Hooker’s.
If she lives long enough she’ll make a good
wife for me. Superman isn’t even real
so even if he’s ever killed he’s not.
Miss Hooker’s the real hero. That’s Jesus
in my heart. I guess I‘m saved. Great Krypton.
(Gale Acuff has had poetry published in Ascent, Ohio Journal, Descant, Adirondack Review, Ottawa Arts Review, Worcester Review, Maryland Poetry Review, Florida Review, South Carolina Review, Arkansas Review, Carolina Quarterly, Poem, South Dakota Review, Santa Barbara Review, Sequential Art Narrative in Education, and many other journals. I have 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 university English in the US, China, and the Palestinian West Bank.)
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