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.
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.