Gale Acuff

I don't ever want to die because then

where would I be—at Sunday School they say
either in Heaven or Hell and I think
plain old nowhere would be the place, maybe
death's like being asleep forever but
no dreaming, you're exhausted, you're dead-tired
—ha ha—and you never wake and nothing
tries to rouse you, thirst or full bladder or
something you've been worrying you must do
or a test you need to cram for at school
or to see your Sunday School teacher's skirt
this week, last time it was pink and the week
before sort of violet but bother
those, every Sunday she's prettier if
still fifteen years older. But this too won’t pass.

Someday I'm going to die but at church

and Sunday School I'm going to live a
-gain, I mean that's what they say will transpire
for me after I die, I don't really 
die yet I do and that's religion and
God knows about it, too, so when I see
Him if only to get judged before He
sends me down to Hell to fry forever
I'll truly have been made in His image
and that must mean that like me He thinks like
a ten-year-old because I am, I am
ten years old that is and so is He—if
I die at 10 I mean and if 50
then He is, too. But now I wonder what
would have happened if He’d never been born.

I don't want to go to Hell when I die

nor Heaven neither mostly because I
don't want to die at all and I told my
Sunday School teacher exactly that this
morning after class but she was tough, she
told me to grow up (I'm just ten years old)
and realize that everybody dies
and I'll be no exception so it's not
a matter of trying not to die but
understanding that I must and then spend
Eternity in the Good Place or burn
forever in the Bad so I must choose
and behave myself accordingly—you're
old enough to know right from wrong so
I said Yes ma'am and I do but the wrong
kind of chooses me first. She laughed. We're doomed.

When people die they're kind of stuck, they go

nowhere except for their souls, their bodies
rot away on Earth but my Sunday School
teacher says that we get all-new ones in
Heaven—I forgot to ask about Hell
since that's where I'll be going, anyway
when I told her so she started to cry,
that's sort of body-and-soul together
right there, I wonder if laughter's the same,
I wonder a lot of things but she says
not to worry too much because when I'm
croaked and either in Heaven or Hell then
I'll get all my questions answered even
though it's too late to do anything with
that news. So this time we cried together.

Heaven will be quite enjoyable says

my Sunday School teacher and then we all
say the Lord's Prayer together, Amen
echoing, but after my classmates have
gone I ask her how she's so sure about
the Life to Come and she says that her faith
is strong and I'm ten years old but
even I know that faith is no way to
what's so, that's what science is for and she 
stares at me as if I'm not standing right 
in front of her and then she starts to cry,
bursts into tears like it reads in books and
it's really true, some of those tears slap me,
not that I'm standing so close to her but
I'd sure like to. That's what science tells me.

Gale Acuff has had poetry published in Ascent, Reed, Journal of Black Mountain College Studies, The Font Chiron Review, Poem, Adirondack Review, Florida Review, Slant, Arkansas Review, South Dakota Review, Roanoke Review and many other journals in over a dozen countries. He has authored three books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel, The Weight of the World, and The Story of My Lives.

Acuff has taught university English courses in the US, China, and Palestine.
previous page     contents     next page


Blogger Jack Galmitz said...

I really enjoyed your poems immensely, Gale.
I love the tone of them, the whimsy in deep trouble, the sweet desire and innocence, the intelligence of the pure about it.
I mean I haven't found such flowing, lovely language in god knows how long.
Thanks for these. They helped me out today.

12:36 AM  
Blogger Jack Galmitz said...

Forgot to mention how I appreciate your adaptation of the sonnet form.

5:01 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home