Skip to main content

Gale Acuff


I'm carving my initials on a tree
with a pocketknife my father gave me
yesterday. My first tool. My first weapon.
I'm leaving a hint of who I am here
by force. I'm not killing the tree but what
was that cry I just heard? Probably just
a bird but it's a new one on me. Crow?
Pigeon? No and no. GA--that's me, or
part. I know who I am but if someone
comes through these woods and doesn't know me then
he won't know I cut these clues. But he'll know
why, I suspect, and that's enough: as if
I've put my mark on Nature--my copy
-right. Yes (mean my initials), I own all
you survey. Not just this one tree but all
its brothers and, by extension, the earth
and sky, bushes and briars and flowers,
birds and squirrels and stray cats and dogs and
whatever other creatures wander through,
including the character who pauses
here and finds the owner of this forest.
Not that he would know where to look. Chances
are he won't stop here at all but at some
strange tree. If I'm discovered it will be
by accident. And I'm not even sure
if I can find this place again myself.
It will be like stumbling on a second
finding. I may wander through here for years
and never see me again, especially
if it's me I'm seeking. Then, in ten years,
say, I'm back in the territory and
I stop to wipe my brow or take a piss
and I look up and there I am, even
taller than I stand. Well (I'll say), I'll be
damned. There it is. There I am. After all
this time. I'll reach to touch the old scars and
recall the pocketknife lost long ago,
perhaps in these very woods. I don't know.
If it's here it's rusted to Hell by now,
going back to what it was before mined
and forged and alloyed and packaged and sold
to my father and then passed on to me.
That's me, too, lying in the loam somewhere
beneath the trees. I shouldn't be careless
and wouldn't want to lose me for life.
Or suppose someone finds it before me,
picks it up and takes it home and cleans it
and slides it into his pocket, finders
keepers? There's something left of me on edge
and I'll bet that it will never wear off
no matter how much it's used. My tool. My
weapon. My birth and my death and a name.

Gale Acuff has had hundreds of poems published in eleven countries and is the author of three books of poetry. He has taught university English in the US, China, and Palestine.


Popular posts from this blog

David Oliver Cranmer

Not Just Another Playlist Often, I sit in my swivel chair looking out the window, while jazz, country, or rock music plays. This pleasure goes on for many hours a mystic trance of sorts streaming—the glue maintaining my soul. I turn the best songs into playlists (once we called them mix tapes) puzzling over the perfect order. Does Satchmo’s “What a Wonderful World” kick off my latest list or make it the big soulful closer? And does “Mack the Knife” go higher in the set than “Summertime?” That’s an Ella Fitzgerald duet! “Foolishness? No, it’s not” whether you are climbing a tree to count all the leaves or tapping to beats. These are the joys that bring inner peace and balance (to a cold universe) lifting spirits skyward. David Oliver Cranmer ’s poems, short stories, articles, and essays have appeared in publications such as Punk Noir Magazine , The Five-Two: Crime Poetry Weekly , Needle: A Magazine of Noir , LitReactor , Macmillan’s Criminal Element , and

Corey Mesler

  I think of you tonight, my Beats I think of you tonight, my Beats, and I am grateful.  I walked the narrow lanes of Academia and never felt at home. There were men and women in the flowerbeds, their heads full of theorems and poems. There were teachers who could lift their own weight in prose.  I was lonely. I was too loose.  I was a lad from the faraway country of Smarting. But I had you as so many before me. I had you and I knew secret things. I could count on you like a percussion. And now I want to say: I love you.  If not for you, what? I want to say. If Allen Ginsberg did not exist it would be necessary to invent him.  COREY MESLER has been published in numerous anthologies and journals including Poetry, Gargoyle, Five Points, Good Poems American Places, and New Stories from the South . He has published over 25 books of fiction and poetry. His newest novel, The Diminishment of Charlie Cain , is from Livingston Press. He also wrote the screenplay for We Go On , which won The Me

Amy Holman

My mother made herself the deer with a broken leg  We saw a deer through the pane into someone else’s yard. The leg moved like a tube sock pinned to the hip  and half filled with sticks. I did not like to see it suffer, either. She was upset —my mother —that no one helped  the doe. Was it a mother, too? As if we were the first to observe the scene. We weren’t. All had been told to let her be. My mother had suffered a destruction  of the self, a divorce, and no one cared. That wasn’t true.  We were grown, on our own. I agree it was hard. Yet  in those moments of a cold November day, we watched  a doe, disabled and enduring, walk across a yard and eat  a hedge. I wish she could have seen it like that. Amy Holman is the author of the collection, Wrens Fly Through This Opened Window (Somondoco Press, 2010) and four chapbooks, including the prizewinning Wait for Me, I’m Gone (Dream Horse Press, 2005). Recent poems have been in or accepted by Blueline,