Sherri Levine

Grammar Lessons

When my students ask me how to use the future tense,

I tell them that we use “will”

for a promise or a threat.

I will always love you, for example.

And to make a plan, we use the “present continuous,”

I am divorcing him.

And when they ask about the “simple past,”

He loved me a long time ago . . .

It’s not that simple, I tell them.

There’s certainly nothing perfect about the “present perfect,”

I have loved you since the day I met you.

By definition, I ask them,

Does this mean that he stopped loving me?

But loving is a “non-continuous verb,”

Loving, I tell them, is incorrect.

And for the modals?

(Though confused, I know I still have their interest)

I may, I might, I should, I could

keep going, but I won’t.

Instead, I tell them:

Love is full of tenses.

*Published in Timberline Review, Su 2015



Orange Crush

I saw my man

put a dollar

in the soda machine

to buy a Coke

but the Coke didn’t come out





was an Orange Crush.

My man was banging that machine

so hard with his fists


Goddamn it!  Goddamn machine!

but when he got the Orange Crush

he drank it anyway.

Why?  I asked him.

Cause it’s here

and I’m thirsty

You get used to it—

You get used to a lot of things, he said.

I’ll never get used to losing you,

I told him.

*published in Hartskill Review, 205