Sunday 5 May 2019

2 Poems by Gale Acuff


If  I don't love Jesus more than I love
Miss Hooker, my Sunday School teacher, then
I'll go to Hell but I just hope she'll know,
Miss Hooker I mean, what a sacrifice
I'll be making and after class today
I tried to tell her just that but instead
we wound up on the floor together, she
wanted to pray for my immortal soul
she said, before we said anything else
to each other and by the time we came
to Amen and had risen to our feet
I forgot what I was going to say
to her, which maybe meant that I don't love
her as much as I love Jesus after
all or at least that He outsmarted me,
not that that's not easy--Christ, ask Satan.


No one loves me but Miss Hooker and she's
dead, she died last night, in my dream, so she's
dead there, but this morning I'll go to church
and Sunday School and see if she lives. I
hope so, she's my Sunday School teacher and
in class I'll study her as if she rose
from the dead and I just don't believe it.
But who could? And after class I'll ask her
if I can touch her to see if she's real.
She'll probably hold out a hand for me
to take and I'll take it and not only
take it but taste it, too, with a kiss, like
those gentlemen do in those old movies,
and then look up to see what she's seeing
in me, if anything--also to see

if I see me in her eyes, and if so
she's still alive and I'm still alive but
if I don't see me in them then I'll know
she's supernatural, so I'll spit skin
that I just kissed but it will be too late,
she's killed me dead, and I'll fall to my knees,
which isn't far, I'm only 9--but still
--and look up at her as she grins, her fangs
like my dog's but not so yellow, and ask
Why . . . why . . . O, why? and she'll cackle and say
Why, indeed? or maybe Why not? and then
I'll fall over and give up the ghost. Which
means breathe my last. Which means expire. I guess

that means we won't be getting married when
I grow up--I'm powerfully in love
--and also that I won't be marrying
anybody, unless, of course, in Heaven,
which I hope I go to, but if it's Hell
I get, I'll probably deserve it, but
I'll do the best I can, I'm a good egg,
just cracked, especially when I'm sleeping.


Gale Acuff has had poetry published in Ascent, McNeese Review, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, Poem, Weber, Maryland Poetry Review, Florida Review, Slant, Poem, Carolina Quarterly, Arkansas Review, South Dakota Review, Orbis, 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).


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