Ugly as Sin by Gale Acuff

Miss Hooker’s dead. She teaches me Sunday
School, or did until she died, even though
it was a dream, a bad dream, from last night
but I woke this morning still feeling death
and I’m not even dead yet but I wish
I was sometimes just so I wouldn’t be
afraid of it, I’d be one with it, its
good match, and then maybe I would beat it,
beat death to death so that there would be no
more of it. In Sunday School class last week

Miss Hooker said that Jesus already
defeated death but that still means I have
to die first. Death will kill me but not for
keeps because I’ll live eternally, my
soul anyway and she says that part counts
most, I can’t use my body in Heaven
anyway because oil and water don’t
mix and I guess my body’s the second
but then again I like fried chicken, that’s
oil, but I like water, too, but any

way you slice it I’m one or the other,
so if I believe in God and Jesus
and the Holy Ghost and say my prayers
and try not to sin, even though I will,
I’m cursed, Miss Hooker says, we all are, and
ask God to forgive me when I’ve strayed
then I’ll go to Heaven sure as shooting
and death will actually be my friend
because I can’t go anywhere, Heaven

or Hell, unless death kills me enough to
get me to one place or the other and it’s
the other I want, Heaven I mean, full
of angels and good folks from the Bible
and maybe my dog, maybe a trillion
dogs. Miss Hooker didn’t say so, I filled
in the blanks. This morning it’s Sunday School
again. I know Miss Hooker isn’t dead
but it sure seemed real in my sleep. Maybe

after class I’ll tell her how it was but
I don’t want to scare her, her red hair and
green eyes and freckles, Lord knows she’s been through
enough already. Up in Heaven ugly
won’t matter–I’m no prize myself but good
enough for God and death won’t pass us by,
nobody’s that ugly, only homely.
And I wouldn’t be death to save my life,
not if you gave me a million dollars.

I have had poetry published in Ascent, McNeese Review, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, Poem, Adirondack Review, Weber: The Contemporary West, Maryland Poetry Review, Florida Review, South Carolina Review, Carolina Quarterly, Arkansas Review, South Dakota Review, Orbis, and many other journals. I have 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).

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