I know how it feels when no one wants you

–they won’t leave you alone. They won’t leave you

alone. Their downcast eyes look through me. Their

reluctance to talk to me engages.

The telephone won’t stop not ringing. Their

e-mails, which never arrive, backlog, so

few that I simply can’t keep up with them.

My doorbell never stops not ringing. Knocks

on my pane never cease, they never cease

like there is no beginning. And those cards

and notes and letters and gifts–where do they

get the time not to be so thoughtful? I

wish that others would leave me alone, let

me have some peace–Christ, I’m not a people

-person. I’m surrounded–they’re everywhere.

I’ll be laid out on the sofa, watching

television, say, reruns of The Lone

Ranger or The Fugitive–and the phone

won’t ring, disturbing me, so I get up

to pick up and answer and they’re humming

just like a dial-tone when I order out

for pizza or Chinese. Or I’ll be in

the bathtub, soaking my (bad) right leg, when

somebody’s not practically breaking

down the door to say hello or borrow

sugar or tools or the latest copy

of Soldier of Fortune. Dammit. I don’t

get out and wrap a towel around my groin

and slip into my sandals and open

the door just to see someone from work

with a birthday cake and hear him and all

the others who aren’t standing behind him

shouting Happy Birthday. Am I surprised? Hell

yes, I don’t say. Come in, and they do, and

I excuse myself to get dressed and when

I return there’s nobody there–I’ve groomed

too long and they’ve even taken the cake

away with them and the single candle

which stands for forty-eight. All those presents

they haven’t left–by the time I’ve unwrapped

’em all, there’s nothing left, there’s just no end

to the love, the floor’s not strewn with ribbons,

paper, and bows. Then I don’t cry. Not much.

Gale Acuff, PhD

I have had poetry published in Ascent, Chiron Review, McNeese Review, Adirondack Review, Weber, Florida Review, South Carolina Review, Carolina Quarterly, Arkansas Review, Poem, South Dakota Review, and many other journals. I have authored three books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel (BrickHouse Press, 2004), The Weight of the World (BrickHouse, 2006), and The Story of My Lives (BrickHouse, 2008). I have taught university English in the US, China, and the Palestinian West Bank.


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