"Inflation" & "Hallelujah"

Gale Acuff

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If the plate came back around anyway I might pinch my quarter back, or at least take some change for it, a dime and a nickel, say. That would still be a sin but less of one.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Yolk began as an electric conversation around a picnic table in Saint Henri Square.

Our scruffy pioneer and present prose editor had previously approached each of us with an idea, a vision: We would establish our own literary magazine in Montreal. And so it was, or so it would be. After that original encounter, eight individuals devoted to the word resolved that they would gather bi-weekly, on Sundays, and bring something new into this busy, manic world—something that might slow its spin down somewhat and cause its patronage to say: “You know what, it ain’t so bad, is it, Susan?”

We are undergraduate, graduate, and graduated students of writing. Some of us learn our craft formally from accomplished authors in seminar courses, and some of us learn by looking out the window of the world and onto the streets that sing below. Some of us learn from screaming squirrels, old curtains, departed grandfathers, and bowel movements. We learn from old lovers, long winters, imperfect mothers, and from the deep internet where a musical genius remains entombed.

Yolk is cold floors on Sabbath mornings, home-brewed ginger beer in the endless afternoon, and downpours of French-pressed coffee in assorted artisanal mugs. Our first official gathering was scheduled for a duration of two hours; most of us remained for six, departing only to attend to the summons of our own beckoning realities. Together, with time suspended, we talked endlessly of contributing something to disrupt Montreal’s literary ecosystem. Something unparalleled, something true.

But what? There was nothing to discuss. There was everything to discuss.

We volunteer our time, hounding some elusive beast composed of combustible words and works. We are hopeful, truly hopeful, that we can give something new, a new way, a new light, and that if we cannot, we might at least uphold the traditions of our predecessors, cast star-wide nets to capture their echoes. We are a thousand decisions. We are a sanctuary for the orphaned word, the solitary writer, the cereal-eating artist who yearns for company, for the comfort of a like mind; we sit together with them at foggy dawn, it rains a baptism, with our arms and hands intertwined, we form an umbrella—underneath, they scribble madly, the perfect picture.

Yolk in no way presumes to be superior to its contemporaries, but its contemporaries should not presume yolk to be anything other than loud—quite, quite loud. We are yippidy jazzed to address the oh-so-technicolorful magnificence of the human experience, but we are prepared also to address the ugliness, to stare at its wet, hairy snout and into its square depth and to roar in return at the things that yearn to devour our skin, beset our ethos, and dig graves in our own backyards.

There’s so much to say, there’s so much we don’t know, but together, with you, we can placate that ignorance, render it peaceful, tolerable, and perhaps even, fucking beautiful.

And Susan says, “Amen.”
Photography by Jana Shnipelson

Inflation

In church today when the collection plate

was handed around and at last came to

me it was all I could do to let fall

my quarter, my parents' quarter really,

they don't go to church themselves but send me

for the morals, they say, and sleep late, still

in their robes when I get home for lunch, which

is a breakfast really, scrambled eggs and

Tang. And coffee and cigarettes, which I

can't have but just wait until I'm older

and then watch my smoke. I hold onto it

'til the last little tick of a second,

the quarter I mean, since it signifies

two comic books at twelve cents apiece plus

the leftover penny for Georgia tax,

or five candy bars or a hamburger

and fries at the Dairy Drool or maybe

twenty-four pieces of bubble gum and

twenty-five if I don't buy them all at once

and then lose a piece to the government.

Thou shalt not steal, that comes from the Bible

and Miss Hooker, my Sunday School teacher,

who was talking about it and the other

Commandments. Ten there are, as I recall,

but I can't remember the rest, something

about adultery, though I'm not sure

what that is, and don't covet thy neighbor's

wife, which sounds dirty but I don't know why

and I was halfway into a yawn when

Miss Hooker gave the definition so

I missed that, what covet means, I mean. I

know that covey means some quail and Willie

McCovey hits a lot of homers for

the Giants. Oh, yeah: Honor thy father

and thy mother. I try. They send me here

to the church, and if I wanted to be

a pissant about it I could say that

they're trying to bribe God for not coming

themselves. Still, a quarter is a quarter

though not what it used to be, sighs Father.

No, it sure isn't, Mother agrees. I

don't know, I'm only 10 and they grew up

during the Great Depression but they need

to get modern, it's 1966

for Christ's sake. When I'm their age I hope I'm

dead so I don't bother my own kids with

stories about my pain in the past. If

the plate came back around anyway I might

pinch my quarter back, or at least take some

change for it, a dime and a nickel, say.

That would still be a sin but less of one.

I take that back—it would still be a sin

and even though God is two-bits richer

I'll still go to Hell for being greedy

even when I swapped out greed for silver.

If Miss Hooker's right and one day Jesus

is coming back it can't be too soon for

a wicked little sinner like myself.

Still, last month's Batman was the first part of

a two-parter but it looks like I'll miss

out on what happens although I think he'll live

but I want to know how he'll live, how he

escapes, how he does it—that's real living.

But that's why they call it sacrifice and

I guess that's why God had Jesus dangle

on the Cross until He gave up the ghost,

Jesus I mean, not God—or is it both?—

so that I don't miss anything in life

or at least I don't notice or if I

do I won't care. I wish Reverend Horlock

would shut the Hell up and just cue the choir

for one last song so we can all go home.

At least I'm sitting behind Miss Hooker.

She's got freckles on her neck. I wonder

if her freckles glow in the dark—I'd pay to

see that. Her red hair just above her collar

looks as soft as the fur on a mouse's belly

or the down on a chick or the fuzz on

a peach. I'm so hungry I could eat her.

Hallelujah

I'm walking my Sunday School teacher to

her car. I don't want to go to Hell and

she's as close to God as I've gotten so

far, except for Preacher, and he scares me,

jumping and shouting, sliding and howling,

even crying and begging for us to

come forward and give our lives to Jesus,

but I'm afraid Jesus would throw mine back—

I would, if I was Him. Or is that I

were Him? Or I were He? I can't even

speak good. Or is that well? So how the heck

can I be saved in Heaven if I can't

save myself, at least a little, down here?

Being close to Miss Hooker might rub off

on me, which is what I want, ditto her

red hair and green eyes and mole on her nose

and dimple in her chin—a crater's what

it is, God bless her. And all those freckles,

like little stars, or Mars in multiple,

maybe infinity if she has more

under her clothes. If she married me, then

I'd know—we'd go on our honeymoon and

see each other naked and when night falls I guess

our eyes would adjust. We stop at her little Ford

and I open her door for her, it's not

locked, God wouldn't let anyone steal it,

no way. I'd like to see what she's got in

her glove compartment but that's none of my

business and probably another kind of

sin. And if I asked to peek inside she

might say no and then I'd feel younger than

my 10 and even farther away from her

25, and fifteen years is too much

distance between us anyway, I mean

that distance folks call time. Why, thank you, Gale,

she says as she climbs in and I don't look

at her knees as she swivels on her hams.

You're quite a gentleman. Yes ma'am, I say,

but I mean that she's welcome and not that

I'm a gentleman. I guess I haven't

made it plain how humble I am. I close

the door for her and she grips the steering

wheel with her left hand and turns the key with

her right and fires up her little Falcon

and I stand clear for her takeoff. She rolls

away and I step into the center

of her empty parking space and watch her

going—home, I guess. I wave but I'm not

sure if she sees me, if she's looking in

her rearview mirror. She turns right and soon

she's gone but I can't move, I'm still looking

but I'm not sure for what, something in my

heart or mind, I guess. No, that's not right—it's

in my soul, or is my soul, that's all that's

left, because she's taken my heart for a ride,

and as for my mind it isn't too sharp

so all I'm left with now is me, who I

am. If I dropped dead of a heart attack

right now they'd haul my body away but

God would beat them to my soul and send it

to the Good Place or the Bad Place. No more

Miss Hooker, unless I get to Heaven

where I can wait for her 'til she dies—she

won't go to Hell, that's for sure, not if there's

a God. As for Preacher, I won't judge him—

if I'm in Heaven and have to share it

with him then I'll try to get along, but

if we're in Hell together then we might

as well be alive for all that torture's

worth. When I can finally move, I start for

home. It's not far. I hear the church-bell ring

coming and going—I'd like to get lost

going back, but I never lose my way,

find Mother and Father at the table.

They make me go but never go themselves.

That must be what it means to be grown up.

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Additional reading

Sundogs

Flash-Fried 2.0

Inflation, Gale Acuff In church today when the collection plate was handed around and at last came to me it was all I could do to let fall my quarter, my parents' quarter really, they don't go to church themselves but send me for the morals, they say, and sleep late, still in their robes when I get home for lunch, which is a breakfast really, scrambled eggs and Tang. And coffee and cigarettes, which I can't have but just wait until I'm older and then watch my smoke. I hold onto it 'til the last little tick of a second, the quarter I mean, since it signifies two comic books at twelve cents apiece plus the leftover penny for Georgia tax, or five candy bars or a hamburger and fries at the Dairy Drool or maybe twenty-four pieces of bubble gum and twenty-five if I don't buy them all at once and then lose a piece to the government. Thou shalt not steal, that comes from the Bible and Miss Hooker, my Sunday School teacher, who was talking about it and the other Commandments. Ten there are, as I recall, but I can't remember the rest, something about adultery, though I'm not sure what that is, and don't covet thy neighbor's wife, which sounds dirty but I don't know why and I was halfway into a yawn when Miss Hooker gave the definition so I missed that, what covet means, I mean. I know that covey means some quail and Willie McCovey hits a lot of homers for the Giants. Oh, yeah: Honor thy father and thy mother. I try. They send me here to the church, and if I wanted to be a pissant about it I could say that they're trying to bribe God for not coming themselves. Still, a quarter is a quarter though not what it used to be, sighs Father. No, it sure isn't, Mother agrees. I don't know, I'm only 10 and they grew up during the Great Depression but they need to get modern, it's 1966 for Christ's sake. When I'm their age I hope I'm dead so I don't bother my own kids with stories about my pain in the past. If the plate came back around anyway I might pinch my quarter back, or at least take some change for it, a dime and a nickel, say. That would still be a sin but less of one. I take that back—it would still be a sin and even though God is two-bits richer I'll still go to Hell for being greedy even when I swapped out greed for silver. If Miss Hooker's right and one day Jesus is coming back it can't be too soon for a wicked little sinner like myself. Still, last month's Batman was the first part of a two-parter but it looks like I'll miss out on what happens although I think he'll live but I want to know how he'll live, how he escapes, how he does it—that's real living. But that's why they call it sacrifice and I guess that's why God had Jesus dangle on the Cross until He gave up the ghost, Jesus I mean, not God—or is it both?— so that I don't miss anything in life or at least I don't notice or if I do I won't care. I wish Reverend Horlock would shut the Hell up and just cue the choir for one last song so we can all go home. At least I'm sitting behind Miss Hooker. She's got freckles on her neck. I wonder if her freckles glow in the dark—I'd pay to see that. Her red hair just above her collar looks as soft as the fur on a mouse's belly or the down on a chick or the fuzz on a peach. I'm so hungry I could eat her. Hallelujah, Gale Acuff I'm walking my Sunday School teacher to her car. I don't want to go to Hell and she's as close to God as I've gotten so far, except for Preacher, and he scares me, jumping and shouting, sliding and howling, even crying and begging for us to come forward and give our lives to Jesus, but I'm afraid Jesus would throw mine back— I would, if I was Him. Or is that I were Him? Or I were He? I can't even speak good. Or is that well? So how the heck can I be saved in Heaven if I can't save myself, at least a little, down here? Being close to Miss Hooker might rub off on me, which is what I want, ditto her red hair and green eyes and mole on her nose and dimple in her chin—a crater's what it is, God bless her. And all those freckles, like little stars, or Mars in multiple, maybe infinity if she has more under her clothes. If she married me, then I'd know—we'd go on our honeymoon and see each other naked and when night falls I guess our eyes would adjust. We stop at her little Ford and I open her door for her, it's not locked, God wouldn't let anyone steal it, no way. I'd like to see what she's got in her glove compartment but that's none of my business and probably another kind of sin. And if I asked to peek inside she might say no and then I'd feel younger than my 10 and even farther away from her 25, and fifteen years is too much distance between us anyway, I mean that distance folks call time. Why, thank you, Gale, she says as she climbs in and I don't look at her knees as she swivels on her hams. You're quite a gentleman. Yes ma'am, I say, but I mean that she's welcome and not that I'm a gentleman. I guess I haven't made it plain how humble I am. I close the door for her and she grips the steering wheel with her left hand and turns the key with her right and fires up her little Falcon and I stand clear for her takeoff. She rolls away and I step into the center of her empty parking space and watch her going—home, I guess. I wave but I'm not sure if she sees me, if she's looking in her rearview mirror. She turns right and soon she's gone but I can't move, I'm still looking but I'm not sure for what, something in my heart or mind, I guess. No, that's not right—it's in my soul, or is my soul, that's all that's left, because she's taken my heart for a ride, and as for my mind it isn't too sharp so all I'm left with now is me, who I am. If I dropped dead of a heart attack right now they'd haul my body away but God would beat them to my soul and send it to the Good Place or the Bad Place. No more Miss Hooker, unless I get to Heaven where I can wait for her 'til she dies—she won't go to Hell, that's for sure, not if there's a God. As for Preacher, I won't judge him— if I'm in Heaven and have to share it with him then I'll try to get along, but if we're in Hell together then we might as well be alive for all that torture's worth. When I can finally move, I start for home. It's not far. I hear the church-bell ring coming and going—I'd like to get lost going back, but I never lose my way, find Mother and Father at the table. They make me go but never go themselves. That must be what it means to be grown up.