Gale Acuff

In this issue of Lois Lane I rub
her blouse off with my eraser and she’s
naked above the waist. I draw circles
for nipples and a couple of Us for
bosoms and she looks like a real woman
now, not that she wasn’t before, even
though she’s just a comic-book character.
But I’m thirteen and in the seventh grade

and I’m sprouting hair where only animals
have it and I smell bad all the time and
my voice is cracking but cracking to depth.
And the girls at school wear short dresses—it’s
’69, a good year for miniskirts
if awful for the war in Vietnam
—and I’m afraid to be too close to them

because it’s such a pleasure. I’m a pig
and they know it but sometimes they pity
me and cross their thighs and their skirts draw up
until I see the tops of their stockings.
I don’t need a girlfriend because I need
one. When I see my first femme naked that
will surely kill me and I mean stone-dead.
The hardening has already begun
in my crotch. Eva Trout caught me looking

at her cleavage yesterday and her thighs
met mine—I mean her eyes met mine, my eyes,
I mean—and spoke, I know what you’re thinking,
and mine replied, It’s not what I’m thinking
but what I’m feeling that makes for this hell,
and she looked away, out of the window,

rain pounding the glass as if the sky
just couldn’t take the beauty of the land
anymore and shamelessly spilled it all
over the earth and then the sun came out
again and was hot and bothered with shame.
Then she looked at me again and her tongue
slipped between her lips and her right eye, or
was it her left, blinked—winked, I mean—my way

and I remembered confirmation at
the Pentecostal church, speaking in tongues
and writhing and falling and being caught
on the way down and gently settled and
stroked until I came to, praising the Lord.

After class I met her in the hall. I
love you, I said. I love you, too, she breathed.
You’re my steady girl now, I said. She said
Yes. I’ll buy you a ring, I said. She said
Yes. I love you, I said. I love you, too,
she said. No man’s ever loved a woman
more, I said. No, she said, biting her lip.
I mean yes, she said—yes is what I mean.
Kiss me, baby, I said. But she wouldn’t
—started to cry and ran down the hall. It

feels good to be a man and I threw up
in the boys’ room, thanking God I was saved.

“I have had poetry published in Ascent, Ohio Journal, South Dakota Review, Santa Barbara Review, Adirondack Review, Worcester Review, Maryland Poetry Review, Descant, Florida Review, South Carolina Review, and many other journals. I have authored three books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel (BrickHouse, 2004), The Weight of the World (BrickHouse, 2006), and The Story of My Lives (at press). I have taught university English in the US, China, and the Palestinian West Bank.” E-mail: asadgale[at]

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