Second Coming

Vacancy, by Minagraphy

In Sunday School today Miss Hooker said
that Jesus is coming but she’s not sure
when–coming again, she means. He was here
once before, a half-a-Bible ago,
before there was anything like we know
today. Oh, there were people, sure, but no
cars or TVs or radios or hot
dogs or burgers or pizza or comic
books. It must’ve been tough for those old folks
back then. No wonder they crucified Him,
no fast way to get to work and nothing
good to eat and no Archie and Jughead.
Miss Hooker didn’t say that — I did — and
even though she teaches us something fierce
I can still read between the lines. She says

that Jesus had to die — shed His precious
blood
is how she put it — as a way of
redeeming us
. Those are her words, too. I
guess she should know, she went to college for
two years and she’s 25 to my 10
and has red hair and green eyes and freckles
and that’s how God made her though Mother says
her red hair came straight out of a bottle,
which I don’t understand — maybe I’ll ask
Miss Hooker about that. And God saw that
it was good, the way He made her, I mean.
If I believe that Jesus is the Son
of God and died for my sins and not just
mine but everybody else’s, I guess,
in the USA and Canada, too,

and not just now but way back in the past
and also in the future, what’s left of
it, and if I try like Hell not to sin
heck, I mean — and when I do pray to Him
for forgiveness, then when I kick I’ll go
to Heaven, Miss Hooker says, and live with
the angels, but not before I stand there
in front of the Throne of God, or my soul
will, and wait patiently while He hunts through
the Book of Life to see if my name’s there
and if it isn’t then it’s the Lake of
Eternal Fire for me for sure and
I can’t swim and even if I could I’d
drown anyway even though I’ll be dead

already. I might get bored in Heaven
but I’ll never tell Miss Hooker that. So
every night before I go to sleep I
pray the Lord’s Prayer — I know it by heart
– then one for my dog and one for my folks
and one for my grandparents and aunts and
uncles and cousins and everyone else
I can’t think of now, and finally one
for Miss Hooker, that she’ll wait until I’m
grown, 16 say, before she gets married
so that I can get a whack at her, no
matter that she’s fifteen years older. Look

at Jesus, Who’s a lot older than that
and we love Him more than we love ourselves.
Or we’re supposed to. And don’t die in sin,
Miss Hooker warned this morning, or I’ll go
to Hell au-to-mat-i-cal-ly. She knows
so much about the Bible it’s like she’s
dead herself. And the truth is that I don’t
want to die at all but I’ve got no choice,
except maybe unless I want to kill
myself. Don’t think I haven’t thought about
it but that’s a sin and there’s no future
in it but the fiery flames of Hell,
Miss Hooker says. She tossed her head and red
hair flew like whatever red hair flies like,
fiery flames I guess. And yet I want

to see God face to face. I’d like to have
our picture taken together but no
one sees God, so maybe Jesus, but then
Heaven’s like a fancy museum, no
cameras allowed. And if God and Jesus
are really the same, Miss Hooker swearing
that Jesus was here in the beginning
all the time but that He sits on the right
hand of God, hand meaning side, then I don’t
understand religion and my life is
at stake so no wonder I leave Sunday
School confused, trudging home the long half-mile.
Today I was almost hit by a Mack
trying to cross the road to our house — I
was trying to cross the road, not the Mack

– I mean, I wasn’t trying to cross the Mack.
Oh, I don’t know what I mean. Another
inch or so and I’d have been standing there
at the Pearly Gates trying to explain
to Saint Peter who I am when I don’t
really know myself. I know who you are,
he might’ve said. Come in and get in line
or Take a number, like at the deli.
At lunch today Mother and Father asked
what I learned in Sunday School today. I
scratched my head and said, Y’know, I dunno,
but one day it’ll all come together
– I’m not ready to give up yet. Good luck
to you
, Father said, raising the Sunday
classifieds between us again. Mother
lit a Camel and exhaled a little
ghost. Your father’s right, she said. Pray like Hell.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gale Acuff has had poetry published in Ascent, Ohio Journal, Descant, Adirondack Review, Ottawa Arts Review, Worcester Review, Verse Wisconsin, Maryland Poetry Review, Florida Review, South Carolina Review, Carolina Quarterly, Poem, Amarillo Bay, South Dakota Review, Santa Barbara Review, Sequential Art Narrative in Education, and many other journals. Gale has also 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). Gale has taught university English in the U.S., China, and the Palestinian West Bank.

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