Five Poems by Gale Acuff

Five Poems by Gale Acuff
Just when you think you're dead you're not--you're up
in Heaven or down in Hell, eternal
life is what it is in either place swears
my Sunday School teacher, she's 25,
old enough to know or to know better
I guess and I'm only 10, I don't know
beans but I do know that I like living
and I don't want to die but I have to,
it's like a law of God's although Adam
and Eve and Satan account for it but
then again God always knew they'd bring death
into the world, that's just the way it was
and without all the bad stuff (which ain't so
bad but good) we'd have no Jesus and that's
pretty much religion. I hope that’s all.

If you're religious then you never die
swears our Sunday School teacher but it's got
to be the right kind of religious and
that's ours she ends then smiles so we ten-year-
olds smile back and then she sets us free for
another week when we'll return for more
God-and-Jesus-and-the-Holy Ghost and
as I walk home from church and Sunday School
I'll be thinking a little more about
death than I did the week before and I
still don't want to die even though I get
eternal life in Heaven, if God sees
that it’s good--I'd be satisfied with life
that never ends down here on Earth but no
luck. Even Heaven doesn’t measure up. 

Everybody loves Jesus my Sunday
School teacher says, that's why we crucified
Him, then she set us ten-year-olds free for
another week but after class I asked
her what she meant, it sounded some stupid
or at least very intelligent but
she looked up from her Bible where she was
buried in the red words, they belong to
Jesus or at least He's the one who spake
'em and I wanted to ask, too, what red
words look like when they're spoken, it’s a fair
question, but I forgot it when she said
What I mean, dear boy, is that it's all in
God's plan for everybody so I said
Yes ma'am. Then left and walked home. But quicker. 

When you die you're dead for good my Sunday
School teacher says and maybe she's right but
maybe she's wrong and I guess I'll find out
when I die and if I do, find out that
is, I'll report back, if that's possible,
but I'm betting it's not, no one has yet
that I know about but then I'm only
ten years old, I don't know about any
-thing, really, except that I don't want to
die at all but I'm not sure that's knowledge
and after Sunday School today I asked
our teacher if there's a way I can tell
everybody when I'm dead what it's like
over there but she only smiled and asked
Over where, Dear? Do you mean over here? 

One day you die and then there's the resur
-rection but not really, you stay dead, on Earth
anyway but maybe there really is
an immortal soul and it lives again
up in Heaven or down in Hell if you
can call Hell life, maybe so though at church
and Sunday School it's not much of one but
anyway if I get to live again
I'd rather do it hereabouts, on Earth
I mean, and kind of take up where I left
off before I kicked, still alive that is
and maybe having fun--maybe I died
by falling off a mountain but if I
could live again I'd have a parachute
or a longer, stronger rope. Or not leap. 

Gale Acuff has had hundreds of poems published in a dozen countries and has authored three books of poetry. He has taught tertiary English courses in the US, PR China, and Palestine, where he teaches at Arab American University.

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