five poems by Gale Acuff


When I die I'll live again is what church

preaches, ours anyway, and Sunday School,

if I think I'm having fun now alive,

when I am having fun that is, it won't

be a thing like the fun I'll have when I'm

dead our preacher says with a smile and I

wanted to raise my hand during his speech,

sermon that is, but you don't do that in

church, Hell, I don't even do it at school,

regular school I mean, I guess that's why

I get called on a lot but still I'm not

prepared, I guess I'm a little proud of

that but anyway to have good clean fun

in Heaven I have to die anyway,

no one lives forever, God doesn't count,

he's not flesh and blood and though Jesus was

it's kind of not fair, He's also a god,

the Son of God they say, and the Holy

Ghost, who really knows who He is, I don't

think I want to live again no matter how nice

it is and after Sunday School class this

morning I told my teacher so and she

asked why and I said that I like it here

fine, on Earth that is, most of it, if God

can make Heaven then He ought to be

able to stop overpopulation

or send some folks to other planets and

help us all see to ourselves, forget

that we'd be aging maybe forever.

And then she sat down but the thing was

she was already. It’s a miracle.

Where Love Can Lead


I may not have much time left even though

I'm ten years old and in perfect health, more's

the pity, God might take me at any

time, I'll have to leave my dog and parents

and regular school, I won't miss it much,

and Sunday School, where I'm kind of in love

with my teacher even though she's old, she's

25 but that's all right, Jesus said

love your neighbor and sometimes love leads to

marriage and when I'm older it won't so

much matter if she's older, too, any

-way I guess when we're dead we'll be the same

age, everybody will, well, not -body,

we'll leave our bodies behind but get new

ones she tells us kids but anyway I

could die, like I say, whenever God wants

me to so I shouldn't waste time, I should

maybe waste my breath instead and tell her

that I love her and maybe she'll say that

she'll wait until I shave and drive and work and

maybe I'll go to college and become

a preacher and then she can come work for me

and we'll go home together after church

but first the Korn Dawg King for the special

and talk with our parishioners, that's folks

who will come listen to me and then we'll

go home and have a nap, then wake up and

watch TV and maybe read the Good Book

and have supper and then watch TV or

maybe hit the Bible again and have

a snack and then go to bed and wait for

children - I guess you must pray for ‘em hard


Hell yes, I love Jesus I shout when she

asks all us children if we do, love Him

I mean, Jesus that is, Miss Hooker I

mean, our Sunday School teacher, so I guess

I get a little carried away some

-times, I just get all -jacked by the Spirit.

also known as the Holy Ghost and most

-ly so in our church, we're what you call prim

-itives, that's what Mother and Father say,

they should know, they hardly come to church at

all but send me here since God's close enough

to walk to so they don't have to drive me

anywhere, any other church I mean,

God's as good there as anywhere else says

Father and Mother says I'll drink to that

ha ha but we don't drink, at church I mean,

I'm only 10 so I don't drink but then

Father likes his Blatz and Mother Mogen

David and besides there's nothing good on

TV Sunday mornings anyway, no

cartoons but Astro Boy and Tobor and

Simba the White Lion and I'm in love

with her, Miss Hooker I mean, even though

she's 25 flippin' years old but one 

day we'll get spliced if only for a spell

until she dies but Mother told Father

once It's not how long it is, it's how you

use it and maybe that's good for ages,

too, not just whatever she was talking

about and maybe I'll tell Miss Hooker

that or maybe she'll tell me or maybe

I'll ask her first just what gives but any

-way she held me back after Sunday School

and told me not to never curse in class

again, not in the House of God, not for

no reason nor good nor bad, that's a lot

of Thous-shalt-nots but not in so many

words and I said Yes ma'am, can I go now,

I've learned my lesson, whatever it is.

But I might die before she does. True love.


This morning in Sunday School I had it

bad, diarrhea I mean, too much pop

-corn last night, the microwave cheese kind and

for breakfast today it was grape Tang and

Sugar Pops and though Sugar Pops are tops

they were tops only in my bottom so

I ran like Hell from our portable class

-room-trailer-on-wheels that don't roll is what

it is and if I was Robin, the Boy

Wonder or is that were I'd holler

Holy Ezekiel, I mean those wheels

within wheels he swore he saw, Miss Hooker's

our Sunday School teacher and she really

believes that he saw them, that he wasn't

toasted and more power to him, I guess

--but even more to her and as for me

I'm only ten years old, I don't know shit

from Shinola, at least Father says so

but to be fair to him he says that to

Mother, too, and my dog, and the stray cat

that sleeps with him, with Caesar I mean, he's

my dog I mean, and sometimes we sleep to

-gether if I can sneak the two upstairs

to my attic bedroom especially

at night, I guess the heat's just to tired to

rise to the top of the house, that's my bum

luck and speaking of luck I made it just

in time to the bathroom off the main hall

of our church and thank God or anyway

thank goodness or my lucky stars, whatever,

it's all God sooner or later, that I

made it without soiling myself, crapping

in my underwear I mean, talk about

embarrassing, it's embarrassing just

to think about and when I was finished

stinking up the room I slipped out before

anybody could see it was me, or

is that I, and beat it back to our class

-room, Ezekiel's Trailer I call it,

and after church I asked Miss Hooker if

God wanted the thing to fly, our trailer

that is, could He make it sprout wings and she

answered, Gale, if He wanted to, He could

make you sprout wings. She thinks I'm an angel


I’m going to die soon - no, I mean that

I’m going to die sometime but sometime

is pretty soon, too, even if I live

to be 100 and I’m only 10

but God’s ages older and Jesus, too,

even if He’s His son, Jesus is God’s

I mean, but then again Miss Hooker says

at Sunday School They’re one and the same since

In the beginning was the Word and it

was Jesus and she’s 25, I mean

Miss Hooker’s 25, that’s pretty old

or older than 10, less than 100,

much less than infinity which is what

I guess God’s age is, Jesus’s, too, plus

the Holy Ghost’s and after church today

I told Miss Hooker that I’m not really

10 but infinity, too, just like God

because He made me, He made me in His

image and since He created me there’s

some of Him in me and maybe even

all and the same goes for her so there it

is and she was so surprised, amazed is

what she called herself that she started to

cry and then I said Your tears were always

inside you, like the Kingdom of Heaven -

There’s nothing new under the sun, and she

finally died then, her tears I mean, then

told me to walk home like I always do

so my little trick didn’t work, I didn’t get

a ride, I had to walk, and as for her

tears, she probably got what’s impure out

so even though I sinned I did some good

so I guess I’ll go on sinning, at least

like that and not bother God to forgive

me but to sort it all out when I’m dead

and in my grave and waiting for the Judgment

Day. That should be enough time. No hurry.

Gale Acuff has had poetry published in Ascent, Chiron Review, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, Poem, Adirondack Review, Maryland Poetry Review, Florida Review, Slant, Nebo, 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.