Airman | Gale Acuff

After they bury me, anyway my
body, I’ll be underground in a box
called a coffin and in some decent clothes
for a change with my eyes shut and my hands
folded, and looking, if I can look at all,
and seeing God, at first my soul will be
in Heaven and getting judged and then it goes
—or I do—to Hell or gets to hang in
Heaven but I’m not counting on that and
as for my body, and even the folks
called undertakers or morticians, they
work at the funeral home, the basement
I bet, not even they can keep me whole
forever and I wonder if I’ll get
to experience my soul splitting my
body and drifting up to Heaven, but
at some churches they say nix, you’ve got to
wait until the Judgement Day and shoot up
to the sky to meet Jesus there, bungee
jumping-like but in reverse or may
-be like Commander Cody rocketing
skyward so I look forward to that and
to learn if I can get goose bumps and not
even have a body to feel ’em, now
that’s what I call an afterlife. Meanwhile

every night, when I turn the light off and
slither into bed, or is it crawl, I
lie on my back and practice for the time
which might not even be what you’d call time
at all when I’ll be dead and they’ll undress
me and wash me and do all the other
things to me to fix me up for death, I
even cross my hands or is it wrists, good
thing that someone will do what I can’t do
for myself, you don’t get much more helpless
than dead I guess, unless you’re a baby
maybe when you still have a newborn life
to lose, but sometimes I can’t make it ’til
the dawn, I wake up thirsty or I need
to pee or both, I usually pee
first, I have a system, it’s hard to be
-lieve that one day it will end and so will
I, at least as I know me. If I do.


Gale Acuff has had poetry published in Ascent, Chiron Review, McNeese Review, Adirondack Review, Weber, Florida Review, South Carolina Review, Carolina Quarterly, Arkansas Review, Poem, South Dakota Review, and many other journals. He has authored three books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel (BrickHouse Press, 2004), The Weight of the World (BrickHouse, 2006), and The Story of My Lives (BrickHouse, 2008).

He has taught university English in the US, China, and the Palestinian West Bank.