It's just poetry, it won't bite


08.06.10 Posted in words to linger on by

Gale Acuff has been writing in China. His poem today is a relatable train-of-thought exercise. Did you ever find yourself spooling an idea out to crazy lengths? Is it not easier to do that from the top of a tree on a bath of a summer day when the world sends you no worries except for the ones you dream up on your own? Some of us continue to weave webs like this throughout our lives. It’s a special kind of fun to create a catastrophe of epic proportions contained completely in our imagination.


By Gale Acuff

I’m climbing the oak tree in the front yard.
If I fall I’ll die–worse, I’ll be killed
dead. Someone will come along and find me
–God first, of course. Then maybe my Father,
or my dog. He’ll sniff and sniff and lick
my face, and if I know him, and I do,
he’ll circle three times and lie beside me.
And I hope he doesn’t try to eat me.
No, he wouldn’t do that. I won’t be there
anyway, of course–I mean that my soul
will go to Heaven (I hope that it goes
to Heaven), and to heck with my body.
It won’t do me any good anyway.
I hope that I get a good funeral.
I hope that people are sad but not sad 
enough to cry. Not much. Some is alright.
When my sister’s cat was run over she
wailed and wailed and scared me so much that I
cried too and I don’t even like cats, they’re
too much like people. No, give me a dog
any day. Now there’s a pet. I want a headstone,
too, with something pleasant written on it.
I like to read words cut into rocks, like
The Ten Commandments. I’ll have my name there,
and my date of birth and date of death, which
is like a date of birth, too, just in reverse,
or maybe it’s the date you’re born again
but into the afterlife. And below,
Beloved Son, Good Student, 4H Club,
Winner of the Third Grade Spelling Bee, and
all that. That may be too many letters
for one hunk of granite. Headstones don’t grow
on trees. But since I’ll be dead I won’t care
much. In fact I may have to go to school
up there–I hope it’s up there, not down there
–or get a job. I guess I’ll stay busy
And pretty soon I’ll forget everyone
on earth, including my family and 
even my dog. How’s he going to know
why I’m no longer around? Maybe when
he dies we’ll see each other again. And
then my buddies. I’ll know the ropes by then,
show everyone around and break them in.
If Heaven’s overhead, I’m on my way
though I can’t get there from here unless I
fall, and then I can’t come back again, not
that I’d want to. But I’m willing to learn.

One Response to “Climbing”

  1. Jessie Carty says:

    Love when a long poem can pull me along. Good work! 🙂

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