I don’t want to die and go to Hell but

then I don’t want to die at all and not

even for Heaven, where, Miss Hooker says,

I should want to live when I’m dead, my soul

she means, my body will just turn to dust

she says, but I think at first it will dry

up of all its blood and fat. And muscle,

not that I have much. And bones. Anyway

I get her point but I wish she’d get mine,

how there’s got to be a better way to

spend eternity, why not make the best

of what my life gives me now and without

the bad parts, dying, for example–why

did I ever start just to have to end?

Miss Hooker says that life goes on, the soul’s

she means again, and we can choose where to


dwell eternally, Heaven or Hell, but

I wish there was a third choice and I mean

not dying at all and no getting old,

or not much anyway, certainly not

the bad stuff like rheumatism and teeth

falling out, and then there’s having to have

others look after you and then I’d wish

I really was dead just to let them off

the hook, which makes me something like Jesus:

dying for others if only just to get

the Hell out of their way so they can live,

but of course they’ll have to die, too, and that’s

where I’d come in–before I leave I’d say

Whosoever believeth in me shall

never die, not that I’m the Son of God,

just a nice guy.


Gale Acuff


Gale Acuff has taught English at universities in the United States and China, and is currently assistant professor at the Arab American University in Palestine. He has three collections of poetry and has been published in many literary journals over the years.