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At Sunday School They Say

A Poem
By Gale Acuff

At Sunday School I asked my
teacher if she believes in a real Hell and
Heaven but she asked me why I put
Hell first in my question and not Heaven
so I said Well, I’m only ten years old,
ma’am, but one day I’ll write a poem or song,
maybe they’re the same, and to fit each syl-
lable into each line I may have to switch
words and parts of words around and then she
smiled and said, Oh, I see, but I’m sure that
she didn’t. Folks say that I don’t, either.

The Afterlife they say at Sunday School
never ends and that’s not bad at least if
you’re in Heaven, for Hell I’m not so sure
but I might find out one day if there are
still days when you’ve gone dead and maybe I
will be the first to learn or at least first
to tell everyone still alive all about
it, if eternal torment and torture
go on forever or even longer
than forever, on and on and never
ending–I wonder if that’s possible,
the only way to be certain endless-
ly is never to begin, which just makes
good sense God doesn’t, the Good Book ditto.
In the beginning everything ended.

I love everybody but that’s easy
when you’re ten years old and might need them while
you grow older and have to work and stay
alive and eat and have a place to live
and a family, I mean a new one you
make and not the old one that made you and
both families will die someday to make room
for newer families, my children’s as well,
and meanwhile I’ll be in Heaven or Hell
carrying on like dead people do, what-
ever they do, or don’t, eternal
life needs being dead forever, I guess,
but at church and Sunday School they don’t say
so in so many words, there’s singing and
prayer and tithing, as well. Then goodbye.

Gale Acuff has had hundreds of poems published in a dozen countries and has authored three books of poetry. He has taught tertiary English courses in the US, PR China, and Palestine.

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