Poems by Gale Acuff

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Tongues

I don’t care if Jesus died for my sins
I tell my Sunday School teacher after
class, He’ll have to do better than that to
get me to come back next week and then I
leave her without saying goodbye atop
the two-by-four-and-plywood porch of our
trailer-classroom, or is that our classroom
-trailer, whatever it is it has wheels
that don’t roll and I guess it’s called a tongue

that tapers to a tip where you can slip
the point over a bumper hitch and drive
the thing away, that would be good if that
happened when we kids and Miss Hooker were
going at it hot and heavy, the Lord’s
Prayer or Moses parting the Red Sea
or Jesus walking on the water and then

suddenly we start moving, we’re being
pulled to the north and the porch rips away
and the wheels really start rolling, rolling,
as whatever tows us off is straining,
straining, until it builds up some speed and
then we’re really moving and we can even stand
without leaning on desks and chairs or one
another again and wouldn’t it be
something, wouldn’t it really be something
if I skipped Sunday School that day and stole

Miss Hooker’s boyfriend’s F-350 from
the parking lot and was the one hauling
our classroom-trailer, or is that trailer
-classroom, down the turnpike, next stop the fair
-grounds near the Chattahoochee River and
in the bed of the pickup enough eats
for a dozen picnics, loaves and fishes
you might say, to feed a heavenly host
or just a bunch of knuckle-headed kids
and a Sunday School teacher watching her
weight and waistline and whatever else she’s
careful about at age 25 and then
my classmates and I, mostly 10, and then
later, when I’m stuffed, I’m arrested for                                                          

grand theft auto—juvenile delinquent
and Public Enemy No. 1 and

I’ll owe it all to Miss Hooker, at least
my love for her, when I grow up I want
to be her husband more than a lover
of God and Jesus and the Holy Ghost, They
can dump me to Hell but at least They
can never throw me out of Sunday School
for chewing gum. I mean not by Themselves.

 

So Be It

I love Miss Hooker more than I love God
Almighty and I guess He’ll send me to
Hell when the time comes for having said that
but then again I’m not lying, either,
so there’s no sin there. She’s my Sunday School
teacher, 25 to my 10, but she’ll
die, too, one day, most likely before me
unless God sends His messenger of death
to interrupt what’s natural about life,
I mean making it to old age, and then
when I die, too, we’ll be the same age, call
it eternity. Of course, Miss Hooker
will go to Heaven, she’s trying to save
my soul so that I’ll go there, too, one day, when
I die, and I wish her luck because I
don’t really want to die at all but I
won’t mind so much waking up dead with her
kneeling over me as if I’m dying
and as if I don’t answer it kills her.
In Sunday School this morning I got sick
and had to run out of our portable
building into the yard, grass won’t grow there
yet, and threw up my Cheerios and grape
Tang. When I felt well enough I returned
and took my seat in our semi-circle,
semi means half or something like that, and
after Miss Hooker warned my classmates to
stop giggling and then asked me how I felt
I answered, I know the meaning of life
now, then volunteered to lead us all in
the Lord’s Prayer, class was almost over,
and Miss Hooker gave permission and when
we got to Amen I didn’t say it
more clearly than I ever have before
or since. It’s like they were praying to me
or at least I felt a little like God,
and Jesus, too. Which means it’s good to die.

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Gale Acuff has had hundreds of poems published internationally, and is the author of three books of poetry. He has taught university English in the US, China, and Palestine.

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