Poetry from Gale Acuff

Two Poems by Gale Acuff


Soon enough I’ll be dead and not have to
worry anymore about living and
all its problems, I’m only ten years old
and could live to be a century, that’s
10 times 10 from now, take away what I
am and that leaves 90 but to God it’s
peanuts, less than peanut shells, it’s nothing
compared to His eternity so why
should I care if I make 11 or
99, especially since if I’m
good and believe in Jesus and get saved
and stay saved, no backsliding, then I’ll live
forever even if I’m dead or is
that because but anyway at Sunday
School that’s the skinny, I really can’t lose
unless I’m bad and get sent to Hell, at least
I’d have a home, I mean besides the grave
and that’s just for my body anyhow,
my soul will last I guess as long as God
does but just to be safe I’ll ask Miss Hooker to
forgive me for saying so and so as
well that I’ll last in Heaven almost as
long as God will and He’ll last forever
and I told Miss Hooker after Sunday
School this morning most of this and I think
maybe I bored her because I had to
wake her once, maybe like me she doesn’t
eat enough breakfast Sunday mornings but
snacks too much on Saturday nights, it’s good
that we have something in common in case
she falls for me when I’m old enough to
fall in love with but after I woke her
with Miss Hooker, Miss Hooker-whispers like
I might do when we’re married one day and
maybe sleeping in the same bedroom in
the same bed or is that the same bed in
the same bedroom she yawned and smiled or was
that smiled and yawned and said Run along now,
Gale, maybe just like she’ll say it when we’re
married and I will and I won’t worry,
we’ll be dead soon enough and in Heaven
and I won’t think twice about suicide,
not even once, I mean. Maybe three times.


One day I’ll be dead and then wake up from it
and be alive somehow, better they say
than plain old being alive, Sunday School
is where they tell me so so if I think
I’m living now I ain’t seen nothin’ yet
unless of course God sends me to Hell as
eternal punishment for being sin
-ful and all I’ll get to look at there is
fire and maybe sinners’ guts and others
besides just me being tortured, pretty

it won’t be and as for what I’ll see in
Heaven, well, there will be angels and harps
and those angels’ wings and halos and robes
and streets of gold though platinum might be
more valuable they say in regular
school but I’m not greedy and maybe clouds
and a few folks I used to know, their souls
anyway, and Jesus and the Holy
Ghost, and they also say at Sunday School
that I must have faith, if I don’t believe
that eternal life’s how it is up there

then I’ll be sent to Hell and when I said
to Miss Hooker, my Sunday School teacher,
that I’d believe a tad better if I
had the least little bit of proof and then
probably believe without another
doubt, she said that it doesn’t work that way,
you believe or you don’t like you’re good or
you’re bad, it’s one or the other or no
cigar, Heaven that is, and what’s left’s Hell,

then I said that God wants me to have faith,
sure, but He doesn’t want me to be nuts
and Miss Hooker smiled and said lukewarm
is what you mean, Gale, and I said lukewarm,
yes ma’am, and then she told me to run home
and she’d see me next Sunday so I asked
what happens if I’m dead before then and
can’t come back at all and she said Well, Gale,
let’s hope that you don’t wake up dead in Hell

so you should get saved as soon as you can
or sooner because one day when I’m dead I
want to see you in the Glory Land so
I asked What makes you think you’ll end up there
and at first she scowled and then merely frowned
and then her lips went neutral, then shifted
into a smile. That’s a damned good question
and then she covered her mouth and that bad
word even though it’s in the Bible and

even though she couldn’t take it back,
like letting the horse out and then shutting
the gate, even I’m not that stupid, just
stupid enough, so going to Heaven
or Hell is anybody’s guess, and damn
is dirty if you use it wrong but clean
if you use it right, which she didn’t but
she knows what’s right and wrong. Does God curse, too?

Gale Acuff has had poetry published in Ascent, Chiron Review, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, Poem, Adirondack Review, Maryland Poetry Review, Florida Review, Slant, Poem, Carolina Quarterly, Arkansas Review, South Dakota Review, and many other journals. He has authored three books of poetry, all from BrickHouse Press: Buffalo NickelThe Weight of the World, and The Story of My Lives. He has taught university English courses in the US, China, and Palestine.

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A Malawian online literary magazine that publishes poetry, fiction and nonfiction.

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