Airborne

After school and homework–pencils, paper
 –kiting until supper-time, and after.
 Newspaper and sticks and mucilage, or
 tape in a heavy wind. I send Sunday
 comics into aerospace. Hank Aaron,
 classified ads, the headlines that Martin
 Luther King or Bobby Kennedy is
 slain, that LBJ won’t run again, that
 ice cream is bad for you and that’s the scoop.
 I put them all together in a frame

 and watch them float away, only a line
 between me and them, and sometimes it breaks
 or the wind rips the paper or there’s not
 enough tail or too much and the things loop
 and loop and loop into whirlpool, then hit
 the ground. Which is much harder sky to the
 sky’s airier earth. So I follow what
 I’ve helped the wind suspend, and make repairs,
 adjustments, and try again, as though I’m
 testing wings, as if I’m the one for flight.
Yet I never see myself up there, air

 -borne, but I hold the line against the breeze.
 It’s at the limit when the flying’s best,
 when the wind that is now nature pulls you
 or yanks the string from your grip or pulls out
 the tent-stake where you’ve thrust it in to tie
 flight down or rubs and rubs the string
 and you look up to see the creation

 limping off, no more pride to it, no shape
 but animation. Then you have to choose
 whether to track it down after it hides
 behind trees and houses or let it lie.
 Gee, I should’ve put a message on it:
 If you find this kite please call me at
 926-3444 and tell me
 where you found it so I’ll know how far.
 I’ve
 have followed on my bike, abandoned wheels, walked
 through the woods to where my hope has risen,
 have found it in trees, on housetops, over
 power lines–and, occasionally, on
 the ground. Where it began anyway, a
 wooden thing exploded into splinters
 and shreds. This is the end of me, I think,
 the way I’ll come down one day. God makes new

 what’s old, they say at Sunday School. If you
 believe. I believe, but I haven’t thought
 about the finer points of what makes God.
 When I’m old enough to do that, I’ll be
 deceased. Now I believe I’ll never die.
 So I rewind all the string I can and
 tie untethered broken ends and repair
 old kites or salvage the frames and the cross

 -pieces and put together something new
 that’s partly old and send it up again
 and somehow I go with it and I hope
 for a few hours of nothing. While I reel
 it in I realize how long that takes
 –but only when I’m doing it, crossing
 wrist over wrist, making the circle one
 revolution at a time until it’s
 in good hands. What comes to me is that it’s

 easier to let it have its way, which
 must be God’s way, or death’s–and sail out taut
 -lessly. Then pursue it or let it ride,
 though that’s such a lot of line to follow.
 It’s what I can’t see that keeps me looking.

 

Frequency

I love to listen to the radio

–all those voices that don’t know me and don’t

know (but hope) that I am listening. Friends

I don’t have to see who don’t know I’m their

friend. Which I’m not. I’m a good listener,

however, and a democratic one:

I tune out one for another, then turn

him away for someone else (I won’t say

somebody, though I know that there’s a tongue

for every face I can’t see, only hear).

And my very favorites are far away,

come in strong–at first–then fade to fuzz, ears

and antennae like mine too weak to woo

them for long. It’s just as well. They dissolve

like asphyxiation, emphysema

of the airwaves taking spirit away.

Goodbye, old friend; life goes on–I finger

the dial: here’s someone fresh to listen to,

and his or her great product: news, Jesus,

Rumsfeld, baseball, Chevrolet, thunderstorm,

Emergency Broadcast System, Tampax,

Limbaugh, Savage, Bohrs, NPR, Dubya.

Before I can wish that they’d go away

they do–poor reception on this end, cheap

radio, sun long gone and the moon high

and signals like a thousand points of light

(is that what George Bush was talking about?)

or bombs bursting in air or that flurry

of stars when you get up too fast and go

dizzy. They say, whoever they are, that

shooting well beyond the solar system

are the old radio and TV signals

that began many years before my birth;

and that, somewhere out there, aliens are

tuning into The Lone Ranger, Fibber

McGee, Amos and Andy, Jack Armstrong

The All-American Boy, Uncle Miltie,

I Love Lucy, Mr. Peepers. One day

they’ll hear what I’m hearing now, if I was

really listening. Perhaps I am–all

                                                        

that babble one language and one discourse,

one epic going out into the night.

And I didn’t write it, not exactly

–just programmed voices of invisible

chums (on Charon, someone’s hearing FDR’s

reassuring My friends–and you are my friends)

and created a cosmic Spoon River

Anthology. These are their final words,

if not their last, and every night they speak

their piece until I kill the radio

and the white noise of nothing answers me.
If that’s not the voice of God, I’m static.

 

About the Poet

Gale Acuff has had poetry published in Ascent, Chiron Review, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, Poem, Adirondack Review, Maryland Poetry Review, Florida Review, Slant, Nebo, Arkansas Review, South Dakota Review, and many other journals. He has authored three books of poetry, all from Brick House Press: Buffalo Nickel, The Weight of the World, and The Story of My Lives. He has taught university English courses in the US, China, and Palestine.