“Bodily” by Gale Acuff

I don’t care if I’m dead as long as I’m still

alive, in Heaven I mean though not Hell,

I might be dead but I’ll still be lively,

just somewhere else and in Sunday School class

we’re told that that place is perfect so what

am I waiting for, I should kill myself

but our teacher, Miss Hooker, calls that sin

heinous, suicide she means, It’s not fair

to pull your own plug just to plug into

Paradise, otherwise why did Jesus

die just to have us undo Him taking

our own lives? She’s pretty sharp, Miss Hooker

is, and pretty besides and even though

I’m 10 and she’s 25 I can see

her as my wife, for a while anyway,

until she dies, there aren’t that many folks

who really have lives past 45 and

once you hit that high number higher ones

follow, which is common sense but I mean

faster, one after the other and I

guess that when you’re older some even come

out of order–suddenly you’re 50

and if you’re not right with God by then it’s

the fiery depths of Hell for you where–sure

–there’s eternal life for your soul but no

air conditioning and worse torture and

torment and suffering and so on for

you, whenever I’m afraid of Heaven

being pure boredom I just think of Hell

instead and figure–and I’m not even

expired yet–that there’s more to do down there

but you pay a pretty damn high price or

your soul does, your soul’s what’s left of you when

everything else has been peeled away and

you are what you were in the beginning

without a body all over again

except that this time God’s not going to

fit you with a new one, ditto Satan.

What bugs me about perfection sometimes

is how imperfect it is–I’m happy

with life as I have it, or mine, now, but

when you’re dead you get a consolation

prize, let’s say, and how can it be better

than thinking about how good it might be?

I’d just like to be dead for five minutes

to see what it’s like and then I’ll come back

and keep my mouth shut, I won’t spoil Heaven

or Hell for anybody, I just want

a hint and a pretty strong one at that

of what God’s gotten me into so I

can prepare myself. On the other hand

I still don’t think I’m prepared for living.

But then I am and have been and will be

until I won’t be any longer, not

in the flesh anyhow. And that’s my bag.


Gale Acuff has had hundred of poems published and is the author of three books of poetry. He has taught university English in the US, China, and Palestine, where he teaches at Arab American University.

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