Gale Acuff

                                  Let's play two!  --Ernie Banks


I don't want to die but if I have to
Miss Hooker says that I'd certainly like
Heaven better than Hell. And I have to,
die that is, one day. I hope it's a long
way away. Sometimes time is like distance.
And in Hell I'd just suffer, suffer worse
than here on earth
far worse, Miss Hooker says
and she should know, she teaches Sunday School
to me and my classmates. To get to Hell

is easy, she says—just keep on sinning
and you'll be there before you know it, like
it can't wait for me and comes creeping close
to turn up the heat so slowly that I
will hardly notice but when I die still
it will stun me, my soul anyway, my
body will be busy rotting away.
But if I want to go to Heaven then
I'd better mend my ways and give my life

to Jesus and pray everyday like
I mean it. But it gets complicated
because, Miss Hooker says, Adam and Eve
were the first sinners
, which means they brought sin
into the world and it's been here ever
since, we're even born into it, which stinks.
But I don't make the rules so what I've got
to do is try never to do it, sin
that is, even though I want to and I

will, it's inevitable she says. But
Jesus died a horrible, lingering
death to save our souls, so if I believe
that He's the Son of God and my Lord and
Savior and anything else about Him
I'm leaving out--I guess that's a sin, too
—and try not to be a hypocrite and
see no evil, hear no evil, and speak
no evil, like those monkeys on our wall
calendar--then the chances that I'll get
to Heaven after I die are pretty

fair. I'm going to sin but I shouldn't
but I will anyway but I shouldn't
but I will so I must pray everyday
to Jesus to forgive me all my sins
even if I don't know what some of them
are. Just to be on the safe side. The truth
is that I wish I didn't have to die
at all. Then I wouldn't go anywhere.
I hope it's not a sin to pray that, like
I did last night, but I PS'd to it
that if I never had to die I'd try

like the devil not to sin—I call that
a good deal and I guess in time I'll know
if God accepted it. I hope He won't
outsmart me by never letting me know
that I'll live forever. I'd hate to be
two-hundred years old and still never know
if I might get up dead the next day. That
would hurt. Still, I'll have set a record, not
the same as Methuselah's but this is
the Modern Era, like baseball--I mean

more traveling. More challenging pitching.
Better equipment and conditioning.
Better chow. Sharper fans. They're on their feet.

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