I'll be dead someday and just a body


and my soul will float above me, or it,

and gaze down on what I used to be and am

now, that is if there is a soul and at

church and Sunday School there sure as Hell is,

they swear it and I was baptized there so

it must be so, at least something of it,

after Sunday School today I asked why

folks have to die at all and why can't my

body go to Heaven with my soul and

my teacher answered with a question, which

is never too good a sign, What makes you

think, Dear, that you won't go to Hell instead

so I started to cry, then she held me

close so my plan worked and it was Heaven.




I don't want to go to Heaven when I die,


I don't want to go anywhere, just hang

on Earth forever and even Heaven

doesn't interest me, in fact I don't want

to die at all no matter how grand death

might be, the aftermath that is, as for

how I die itself I hope it's painless

-ly but then again I might not ever

remember it anyway, I guess I'll

have to die and find out for myself but

if I'm disappointed I can't count on

coming back and then, too, if I'm dead I

won't be able to count on anything

like I can't count on anything on Earth.

Which means life is eternal. Or a bit.




I ask my Sunday School teacher What if


I told you that they don't call me the boy

with the million-dollar smile just because

I'm the handsomest ten-year-old in our

county and she smiles but then frowns and says

Get thee behind me, Satan and then Are

you telling me that you're wealthy and I

say I'm not saying yea or nay, ma'am, you'll

have to take a chance at falling in love

with me and what's more wait until I'm old

enough to propose to you and even

then I might never so she says Gale, there's

more to true love than a large bank account

and I say Yes ma'am, like real estate, then she

laughs and I laugh. That's where babies come from.




Mother's listening to Frank Sinatra


sing "Come Fly with Me" but it's not about

flying at all, I'm ten years old and have

heard the song a thousand times and it's

not about flying, no way, though I understand

how she thinks it might be but I've never

asked her if she knows what it's about, she'd

probably say I'm not old enough to

understand grownups' songs and maybe she's

right and Father prefers country music,

"Oh, Lonesome Me" by Hank's his favorite and

after a couple of Blue Ribbons with

The Game of the Week on but the sound

turned down he sings and I sing along, what

the Hell, I need to learn what not to learn.




I go to Sunday School religiously


--ha ha--but never seem to learn any

-thing new and I have perfect attendance

and maybe that's why, maybe being im

-perfect's the way to go because there's more

to learn but every time I try to hang

in bed Sunday mornings something makes me

rise and dress and eat if there's still time

and hustle down to church for my weekly

dose of the Holy Ghost and sometimes be

-cause God's the same always or whatever

the Bible says I doze off--you can dream

a lifetime in a few moments, today

it was helping Christ carry the Cross but

He pushed me aside. Then I pushed Him back.




I'll be happy when I'm dead, that's


what I'm told at Sunday School anyway,

life's hard when you're ten years old and

I am but won't always be, I have to

die one day like anybody else, that

is I have to die but probably not

the same way as others, variety

is what there is in life even though most

things finally float down the drain, in ours

there are pieces of mozzarella and

some Cheerios and sunflower seeds and

rice and what looks like little flowers of

broccoli but we don't eat broccoli 

and unidentifiable somethings

caught in the strainer and they’re eating me.


© Gale Acuff


Bio:  She has had poetry published in Eskimo Pie (2017), AscentReed, Poet Lore, Chiron Review, Cardiff Review, PoemAdirondack Review, Florida ReviewSlantNeboArkansas Review, South Dakota ReviewRoanoke Review, and many other journals in a dozen countries. She has authored three books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel, The Weight of the World, and The Story of My Lives.   She has taught university English courses in the US, China, and Palestine.