poetryrepairs #236 v17.04:046

GALE ACUFF : Spliced
JOHN HORVATH Jr : Too Young, Too Short for Love

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One day I'm going to die and go to Heaven or Hell but I forget just how soon, whether I'll wake up dead in Heaven where God will find, or not, my name in His Book of Life, or if I have to wait it out in my coffin until the end of the world. Miss Hooker is my Sunday School teacher and she does a good job learning us 10-year-olds all her Bible knowledge or at least what we can bear being so young, compared to her anyway, she's old, 25, but I forget the finer points of religion so thank God she doesn't give us tests like in regular school--if you don't get right answers there, you don't get credit and without enough of that you get held back a grade but here in Sunday School all we really have to do is pray and sing hymns, it's like praying to music, and don't fall asleep while Miss Hooker talks and don't chew gum or throw spit-wads and if you have to poot go outside in the hall, if I was in charge, or do I mean were, you'd go off the church grounds to cut the cheese. Sometimes I stay after class just to help Miss Hooker, somebody's got to, straighten the chairs and stack the hymnals and adjust the photo of Jesus on the wall and George Washington--pictures, I mean, and they're not posing together. Sometimes I sweep, which is good practice for when I'm a man and not just a man but a husband, says Miss Hooker, maybe she'll be sweet on me one day when I'm 18 or so to her 33, even older than she is now but that's how you get to Heaven or even Hell, you age and age and run out of sand, Father says, by sand he means times, or sometimes you die in an accident, God calls you back that way as well so we need to be prepared, Miss Hooker says, by getting saved and thanking Jesus for His Crucifixion so that when we sinners die we don't go to Hell, Miss Hooker says if we don't think that Jesus is the Son of God then that's how we'll get to Hell, or something like that. All I know is that I don't want to die at all, I told her so after I emptied the trashcan for her today but instead of saying a word she just leaned over and hugged me and it was different from being hugged by Mother or Aunt Pauline or Grandmother Bethel or my dog when I can get him to stand and fall toward me. Anyway, I left without goodbyes. That way, we'll never part.

poetryrepairs #236 v17.04:046

Too Young, Too Short for Love

TOO YOUNG, TOO SHORT FOR LOVE that night alone, though proud of his accomplishment, he lay in bed and wondered whether he’d been her first, a face and name, a man forever set apart from other men or had there been a someone else for whom she moaned, for whom her arms were meant? He’d never know, like other men before him never knew as would those coming after know where he had been among her list of long forgotten names. I’d very like to know, he said almost aloud (the faintest echo upon his bedroom ceiling broke and all its fragments were absorbed by this or that apparel he had too often promised he would clean and straighten up). Weren’t there more important things that he should be about? And, what about those thoughts that needed close attention in his unmade bed at night? He rose from failed sleep in the middle of the night to phone. It rang and rang and rang quite much; he figured that she wasn’t home. Where had she gone? To someone else’s house? No, he’d left her dead, there was nothing He should fret about. She couldn’t move. A petit death, the angels must have lifted her to heaven when he fell asleep upon her naked flesh dark as almonds, sweet as cane, roiling like a rapid river during flood. And yet… There was no blood. Was that a sign? He’d heard it was the mark of first fling or something near to that. My god, sixteen’s a bitch of time for having sex! No. Hard as he thought, there was no blood, nor even a small sign of it. He called her once again. The phone rang once. Her muffled voice as if from deepest sleep was there. And, when he told her his thoughts then asked whether he’d been first, she’d said, “Don’t trouble your sad self all night with that; you were the first and probably the last; now don’t call back.” So there he sat. Where he had thought. Alone at night. What was the name she gave him amid the rampage of his love and lust: did she call out “Swarthy” or “Shorty” (he didn’t know; he likely never would). He stayed awake all starry night.

poetryrepairs #236 v17.04:046


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