Secret Identity

by Gale Acuff

I can't reach the comic books I want at
the tip-top of the twirling rack so I
settle for something closer, a copy
of Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen. Here
Jim dresses as a woman to crack a
tough mob case. He makes a pretty woman,
too. I like redheads -- bunches -- even though
I'm only ten. It's 1966,
my summer between the fifth and sixth grades.
It's Friday night and we've eaten out at
the buffet two stores down. I left Mother

and Father smoking Trues for their dessert,
took my twenty-five cents allowance and
left, first, for the bookstore, to see if new
Hardy Boys mysteries have stolen in.
And Tom Swift, Jr. But I can't afford
real hardback books, and I must have something

so I've come to the Rex-All Pharmacy
to see which two comic books I'll buy for
a quarter -- twelve cents each and a penny
for Georgia state sales tax. The pickings are slim,
which means that the new issues will fly in soon.
Jimmy's not so bad. Superman will show
somewhere in the story, but Jimmy has
red hair, like fire in the night is focal.
And, like I say, he makes a darned nice girl,
so the moral of the story must be
that I've got a gal inside me somewhere,
too, and I can let her out but it's a

secret. I like secrets. Some people know
too much about me as it is, like my
parents, and my second-grade teacher, and
the Virgin Mary and I'm not even
Catholic. Jimmy's discovered but saved
again by Superman -- what a pal -- but
he has a girlfriend, Lois, already,
and, anyway, doesn't he fly with Jim

in his arms and hasn't he given him
a signal watch, or is it a bracelet?
I don't think Superman cares whom he loves,
he just does, though of course the private stuff
is off the page, or in the gutters, or
between the lines, or in the hearts of men
who wrote and drew and want twelve cents from me
and other super-powered little boys.

Gale Acuff says: I have had poetry published in Ascent, Maryland Poetry Review, Poem, Florida Review, South Carolina Review, Carolina Quarterly, Ohio Journal, Santa Barbara Review, and many other journals; I have authored two books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel (BrickHouse Press, 2004), and The Weight of the World (BrickHouse 2006).

I have taught university English in the US, China, and the Palestinian West Bank. Oh -- my favorite fruit: lychees. I used to eat them a lot in China.

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