Grammar Lessons

By Sherri Levine

When my students ask me how to use the future tense,

I tell them that we use “will”

for a promise or a threat.

I will always love you, for example.

And to make a plan, we use the “present continuous,”

I am divorcing him.

And when they ask about the “simple past,”

He loved me a long time ago . . .

It’s not that simple, I tell them.

There’s certainly nothing perfect about the “present perfect,”

I have loved you since the day I met you.

By definition, I ask them,

Does this mean that he stopped loving me?

But loving is a “non-continuous verb,”

Loving, I tell them, is incorrect.

And for the modals?

(Though confused, I know I still have their interest)

I may, I might, I should, I could

keep going, but I won’t.

Instead, I tell them:

Love is full of tenses.


Revise, Revise

By Gale Acuff

I forgot that I usually write

after supper. It’s a kind of dessert

maybe, or a written prayer spoken

but mostly written before repast, which

tonight was boiled oysters, baked potatoes,

pickled carrots and cauliflower, and

artichoke hearts. I never get enough

–like everybody else, I have to dine

everyday and not just at suppertime.

If I can make a poem out of this, and


I’m trying, there are many recipes

to keep the soul satisfied, or more or

less, I’ll go for a walk, downtown is two

blocks away and at this time, almost six and I dine early, folks are sitting down

to TV news before they eat, maybe

the newspaper, shopper, or computer.

But I’m walking the streets, I’m a sleaze for

solitude and so I’m never lonely

except when solitude pays me and I

stroll home, enter the door to my place, and

smell old food nevertheless new enough

to have been mine, which it was–tomorrow


it will be gone but what it had to lend

me will be part of my body to burn

through my dream until breakfast, it’s always

one egg fried with a yolk like an eye but

sometimes I don’t know my own strength and break

the yellow and then there’s a tear not of

water but the center itself, the prick

of my spatula bleeding it free. One


day when I’m dead I’ll be taken away.

If anyone comes to my funeral

I hope they will say that I look well-fed,

Shakespeare was right–Caesar at least: you can’t

trust a lean and hungry person, Gale was

really okay, he had me over for

supper one time, it wasn’t very good

but I wasn’t poisoned though I did throw

up after I got home. Good twice-over.