“Current Issue,” by Gale Acuff

Mar 20th, 2008 | By | Category: Poetry

All the good comic books have been picked through
here at the Dunaway Rex-All Drug Store
at the Cobb County Shopping Center, so
I’m not sure what to do. We get out only
once a week, every Friday,
Father and Mother and I, for supper.
After dessert, Father gives me my due
–my allowance, twenty-five cents. I earned
it, I guess, by making A’s in school, and
taking out the trash, and feeding the dog,
and setting the table, and picking up
my room, and sweeping the front porch. It goes
a long way in 1966, buys
two comic books at twelve cents, a penny
left over for Georgia sales tax. I blow it all
if I can, and I usually can,
on superheroes, my favorite reading.

There’s nothing here I want to buy tonight
Lois Lane‘s alright, because Superman
is bound to show up, but I was hoping
to do better: Justice League, Green Lantern,
Blackhawk, Metal Men, Sea Devils, Hawkman.
But everyone has beaten me to them.
They’re evil, I think. They’re selfish. They’re out
for themselves and have bought everything up.
Fooey. So I leave for the Woolworth’s down
at the end of the open-air mall. They

sell comics there, like Tarzan of the Apes,
Dr. Solar, Magnus, Robot Fighter,
and Boris Karloff’s Tales of Mystery.
They’ll do in a pinch, and I’m squeezed by greed.
But I find nothing there except Disney
comics and other funny-animal
books and I’m too big for those–I’m almost
ten years old. I could go across the street
and see if they have comic books, but it’s
a four-lane highway, I’m small for my age,
and I’m not sure if I can cross quickly
enough. I’m not the Flash or Superman.
But I want what I want or else I’ll spend
a boring weekend at home. So I go

and I wait until there’s no traffic one
way. Then I cross to the center lane, which
is the turning lane, and wait for the cars
and trucks and buses and motorcycles
to trap themselves behind the traffic light
at the intersection of South Cobb and
Pat Mell drives. Then I cross over and go
into the drug store there and quickly find
–I can sense these things–the magazine racks.
The selection here is even worse, and
there’s the same Lois Lane I left behind
at the Rex-All Drug Store, but I need her
–she’s all I’ve got tonight. There’s no one else
to have. It’s funny how you fall in love
with all that’s left when there are no options.

We’ll eat out again next Friday. By then
there will surely be new comics but I
just can’t wait. I’ll pass the night with Lois
and, tomorrow, re-read some old favorites
and pretend they’re new. I’m in the third grade
but I’m already afraid of dying,
especially if it means that I’ll miss
the second half of a continued story
–I’ve got to be around to buy next month’s
Action and see how Superman escapes
a kryptonite trap. Not that he won’t–good
always wins, at least in comic books and
the Bible, and that’s good enough for me,
even though I’m none too good myself and
probably won’t go to Heaven if death
comes for me anytime soon. But I need
to know how he does it. I hate evil,
especially when it buys my heroes
out from under me. Still, nobody knew

to save the good reads for a little boy
from Marietta. And for all I know
some kid was hoping for this Lois Lane,
the last Lois on the rack. I almost
put her back but think, People are greedy
or mean or rob and murder because they’re
I’m lonely, too, but fighting it,
and if I can’t have what I want then I’ll
take what I can get and be satisfied.
One day, maybe when I’m old, or at least
mature, I won’t want anything at all
but what I can make myself, but by then

it’ll be too late to be so selfless,
unless I’m Hell-bent on seeing Heaven.
The thing is that I want a good story
and pictures that help to tell it and dreams
about it afterward, as if it was
written for me and I wrote it myself.


I’ve had poetry published in many journals, including Ascent, South Carolina Review, Ohio Journal, and Florida Review. I’ve authored two books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel (BrickHouse Press, 2004), and The Weight of the World (BrickHouse, 2006). My third book, The Story of My Lives, will be published later this year by BrickHouse Press. I’ve taught university English in the US, China, and the Palestinian West Bank.

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