Gale Acuff: “Die and you go to Heaven or Hell says”

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Die and you go to Heaven or Hell says

our Sunday School teacher so I raise my
hand and ask What if I live forever
and my classmates laugh and I join them but
I’m a hypocrite, I was serious, don’t
tell me that no one out there in the world
hasn’t or maybe even isn’t, some
-one’s as old as the hills of Granny’s chest
or even older, Methuselah-old
but a lot more than that and I wonder
if that could be our teacher, too, she looks
25 but you never know and then
she says Gale, don’t be silly–now please
lead us in the Lord’s Prayer. God damn it.

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About the Author: Gale Acuff has had poetry published in Ascent, Chiron Review, McNeese Review, Adirondack Review, Weber, Florida Review, South Carolina Review, Carolina Quarterly, Arkansas Review, Poem, South Dakota Review, and many other journals. He has authored three books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel (BrickHouse Press, 2004), The Weight of the World (BrickHouse, 2006), and The Story of My Lives (BrickHouse, 2008).

Gale has taught university English in the US, China, and the Palestinian West Bank.

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More by Gale Acuff:

Rub

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Image Credit: Ben Shahn “Sunday school, Penderlea Homesteads, North Carolina” (1937) Public Domain photo courtesy of The Library of Congress

Gale Acuff: “Rub”

 

 

Rub

One day when I’m dead I won’t be, I’ll be
alive, they say, in Heaven or Hell, and
I’ll go to one or the other depend
-ing on how I behave on Earth, either
way I get eternal life but to get
it I’ve got to die, there’s the rub, that’s what
the Bible says or maybe Shakespeare or
Stan Lee or Stephen King or some kids-books
authors but anyway for ten years old
I’m pretty awful, if I died right now
I’d go to Hell and you’d never get to
finish this poem, lucky you, ha ha, I
mean finish reading it, of course you might
finish writing it for me and then you
go to Hell, too, like I will, then again
I could wind up in Heaven, a mistake
made by God’s accounts, say, you can show me
how you completed this poem and if you
didn’t care for the lines I wrote before
I croaked you can help me revise ’em, I’m
pretty easy that way, and besides I’ll
be dead and so will you, if eternal
-ly dead but anyway what can I do
in Heaven at least to wreak revenge and
as for Hell it might be neat to have folks
torture one another instead of Old
Scratch having all the fun for himself so
be gentle, you can’t get much more vulner
-able than dead, I think, you’re pretty weak
then, even a baby’s stronger, even
if you can’t be touched, or maybe you’re both
weak and strong. You might as well be living.

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About the Author: Gale Acuff has had poetry published in Ascent, Chiron Review, McNeese Review, Adirondack Review, Weber, Florida Review, South Carolina Review, Carolina Quarterly, Arkansas Review, Poem, South Dakota Review, and many other journals. He has authored three books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel (BrickHouse Press, 2004), The Weight of the World (BrickHouse, 2006), and The Story of My Lives (BrickHouse, 2008).

Gale has taught university English in the US, China, and the Palestinian West Bank.

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Image Credit: Carl Fredrik Hill “The Cemetary” (1877) Public Domain