Some people die and go to Heaven but

not me is what my Sunday School teacher
swears, I mean that she means that I won't go
there when I croak, I'll go to Hell instead
she says, the Bad Place she adds, for sinning
and rarely asking God to forgive me
nor Jesus neither nor the Holy Ghost
and I didn't even know that He could
forgive me my trespasses, the Holy
Ghost that is and that kind of scares me—Boo!
—I would say if this wasn't serious
like religion always is unless God
has a sense of humor and doesn't give
a fig about most of the stuff folks say
He does. I'll know when I die, if I do.

I don't want to die, I'm only ten years

old and in the time taken to think this
I've aged again and that means ageing won't stop
until it does and that means I'll be dead
but at church and Sunday School, nix, I'm told
there that I'll just be beginning to live
but in the Afterlife, which means to get
there then first I've got to die and then I'll
live forever and I hope they're right but
then again maybe it won't be so bad
being dead and still being alive both
at the same time but I guess I'll have to
wait and see and if I can I'll try
hard to tip off everyone else alive
about what to expect but for a price.

So one day you die and there you are, dead

in Heaven and in line waiting to be
judged, your soul that is, as suitable for
Heaven, to hang there forever that is,
or Hell, where you'll be punished forever
-and-ever-amen, that's eternally
for folks with a vocabulary and
that's what I get from church and Sunday School
every single week so there must be some
-thing to it—I guess I'll find out for sure
when I'm dead myself and yesterday I
was sick and missed regular school but it
was Friday so I have a three-day week
-end and Monday morning I'll rise again.
But with any luck I'll be slain Sunday.

I might be unhappy if I'm sent to

Heaven when I die, I'm more used to Hell
as it is on Earth, anyway that's what
life seems to be preparing for me so
that I'm not too stunned by the fire to come,
which is decent of Jesus and Satan
I guess, that's what I told my Sunday School
teacher this morning, that it's like God has
two sons, one good and one lousy and who's
to say which is really better or at
least which one He loves more and my twin died
while we were being born and sometimes when
Mother's had too much Mogen David she
swears I killed him and sometimes she wishes
he'd killed me. Hallelujah anyway.

I don't want to go to Hell when I die

nor Heaven, neither, I don't want to die
at all, not a bit, when it's what goes on
now, it's what growing is, growing is dying
because it stretches for the end, the end
is death and then they say at church and Sun
-day School the Afterlife which is life but
with reservations but then so is life
anyway and after Sunday School this
fine summer morning and as I was last
to leave the classroom I told our teacher
that if there's life after death we'd know it
for sure and not have to sweat through living
to find out yea or nay but all she did
was smile and wink. But it's how she said it.

Jesus Christ died for my sins says my Sun

-day School teacher, she says it every week
and by saying it over and over
makes it true, I guess, like President Trump
saying that he got cheated out of his
reelection and many folks believe
him and also believe that Jesus is
the resurrection and life and whoso
-ever believeth in Me shall never

die and one lady in church service was
whispering that he's Jesus all come-back,
Trump she meant, and I don't think that's so but
when I got home from church today I fell
asleep during lunch and dreamt that Donald
got crucified good and I missed dessert.

I want to go to Heaven when I die

because what's it for if not Paradise
and Paradise should be the place where if
you've been good on Earth you can go there and
be the best sinner you can imagine
and nobody gets hurt—that's what I told
my Sunday School teacher but she said Dear,
if nobody gets hurt then it's not sin
nine times out of ten or seven at least
which shut me up pretty freakin’ fast so
I was humble for once and said Yes ma'am,
I guess I never thought about it that
and she answered There's only one way
and smiled so I said Yes ma'am and I'll see
her in Hell one day. In Heaven, that is.

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