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Fundamental by Gale Acuff

Gale Acuff | Aug 29th, 2020 | poetry | No Comments

Poem

Miss Hooker says that there’s no other god
like our God, what we are is Methodists,
John Wesley and his brother Charles and those
are the only answers I got correct
on our quiz this morning but it didn’t
count, this isn’t like regular school where
if you don’t get at least a high D on
your tests that’s a pretty good sign you’ll go
to Hell when you grow up, if you ever
do, grow up I mean. Oh sure, there are heaps
of Gods but Miss Hooker says they don’t count,
our God trumps ’em, whatever trumps means, beats
’em all to Hell maybe. One day I’ll die
and go to Heaven to be judged, my soul
that is, she says, they’ll bury my body,
and if I’ve been good I get to stay in
Heaven but if I’ve been bad it’s Hell and
I’d better get ready, she says, God might
send His messenger of death–Death–for me
at any time and if I’m not prepared
then when I wake up dead in Heaven there
will be Jesus looking down at me and
if I’ve got no good excuse for being
bad then I might as well get up and go
jump into the Lake of Eternal Fire
instead of waiting for Him to throw me
in. I wonder if I’ll splash. I’ll take care
to notice but then again I won’t be
able to report back to anyone.
Religion sure is complicated. Class
ended with us saying the Lord’s Prayer
and winding up with Amen. Miss Hooker
set us free but I hung around to ask
her a question, I’m pretty shy when it’s
my soul that’s on the line, but by the time
I opened my mouth to ask it it was
gone, my question I mean, not my mouth, but
except for eating it’s all the same and
man doesn’t live by bread alone, air helps,
and water, living water. No ice, please.

Poet Bio

Gale Acuff has had poetry published in Ascent, Reed, Poet Lore, Chiron Review, Cardiff Review, Poem, Adirondack Review, Florida Review, Slant, Nebo, Arkansas Review, South Dakota Review, Roanoke Review, and many other journals in eleven countries. He has authored three books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel, The Weight of the World, and The Story of My Lives.

Gale has taught university English courses in the US, China, and Palestine.

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