Jesus I love, I really do, I guess
I really do but I’m supposed to love
my enemies, too, He said so Himself
so my enemy must be Satan but
then if I really loved him then my new
enemy would be Jesus so I’d need
to love Him and pretty soon I’d be go
-ing back and forth, forth and back, like I am
now and after Sunday School that’s what I

told Miss Hooker, I put it to her in
the form of a question, I asked her Just
who is my enemy and she answered

that she’ll let me know next Sunday, right
now I’ve got to go check on a sick cat
but don’t you worry, I won’t forget to
let you know next week so on my way out
of our portable trailer classroom I caught
the reflection of me there in the wind
-ow and stopped for just a split-second
to wonder if I’m my enemy or
friend and if he is, too. The answer’s Huh?


I started to cry in Sunday School class
this morning because I’d forgotten but
suddenly remembered, it might have been
Jesus hanging on the cross on the wall,
that my dog was run over yesterday
and killed dead and Father and I buried
him, or Father buried him and I watched
and thought, while I was watching, that God was
watching, too, and that I wish Miss Hooker,
she’s my Sunday School teacher, was watching
as well but because of course she wasn’t.

that I’d tell her all about it today
so I held it all back, or tried, until
after class but I couldn’t, the truth came
forth in tears while she was telling us all
about David and Goliath and I
thought of Caesar, that’s my dog or was or
still is if God gave him eternal life
up in dog-Heaven, as David out there
among the Philistines, which were traffic,
all those cars and trucks and buses, and one
of them Goliath but Goliath one,
before David, or in this case Caesar,
could grab his sling and weigh it with a stone

and twirl and twirl and twirl and let it hurl
its missile at Goliath’s, or a car’s,
head, not that cars have heads but they do boast
bumpers. So maybe God wasn’t with him,
Caesar I mean, but I’m not mad at God,
He gave me Caesar to love for a while
or maybe even forever though I
can never pet him again, except in
dreams and I hope they’ll be good ones but I
won’t wake up from them crying because I’m
nine years old and I have to be a man,
Father says, about this. Miss Hooker gave me

a tissue at the end of her story
—it’s a good story—and I pretended
to have a cold or hay fever in case
anyone asked me why I was teary.
But after class I stayed to talk to her
but before I could tell her what was wrong
I started bawling, as if I’d been hit
by a car myself, and not completely,
just enough to know I’d been hit and not
enough to be dead so that’s how I was
able to cry. Why Gale, said Miss Hooker,
what in the world is the matter? I thought
That’s a good way to ask the question–what
in the world is the matter? I almost

answered Death or Pain, so I told her what
happened to Caesar yesterday and
even though I didn’t see it I felt
like a witness, and it must have hurt him
plenty and I wonder how long it took
him to die and even after dying
nothing changed out there, traffic came and went
and that part of the world went on without
him, and maybe all the other parts, too,
and it will be that way for Mother and
Father and me and everybody else
in the world and that’s what’s the matter, too.

Miss Hooker sat in the chair to my left
and for a moment I thought someone sat
at the same time in the chair on my right
but it was nobody–I looked–unless
it was Death itself or maybe God and
sometimes I don’t know if there’s a difference
so I cried into my mushy tissue
and when I’d had enough, it was as if
something was coming into me and not
going out, Miss Hooker said, Come, I’ll
drive you home, but I said, No thank you, ma’am,
I live close enough that I always walk.
Alright, she said, but before you set off
remember that you’ll feel better in time
and that your dog’s in Heaven now and life
goes on and there’s still a lot of beauty
and you must pray hard for understanding
and Jesus Christ died for this sort of thing
and rose from the dead so don’t be afraid
because if you believe in Him and lead
a good life, as good as you can make it,
He will not forsake you but greet you in
Heaven with Well done, thou good and faithful
servant. Yes ma’am, I said. Thank you kindly.
When I got home it was time for lunch but

first I had to see Caesar, or his grave,
and stood there looking at the dirt on top
and knew that one day, sooner than I thought,
it would be green grass again and I’d lose
track of where we’d buried him and one day
I’d see him again but I’d have to be
dead and I started to shout Stupid dog,
stupid dog, until my parents came out
to check on the commotion and told me
to come inside, lunch was getting cold, and
if I’d like a puppy, and I said Thanks.

Border Collie

Nobody wants to die but we’ve got to
is the lesson I learn at Sunday School
almost every week, every Sunday
that is, and I was never afraid of
it, death I mean, until they got their
teeth in it like my sister’s old collie
and shook it and shook it and shook it like
they were some fiercesome creature or fancied
they were and death was just a stick or bone
to cut teeth on, that’s what puppies do, and
it’s Miss Hooker is my teacher there, at
Sunday School I mean and by the end of
class she’s gotten herself all worked up and
the only way to make death die is get
saved, she swears—oh sure, my body will die
but it’s not too much to write home about, it’s
the soul that counts for everything and when
you die it don’t—it doesn’t I mean—it soars
up to Heaven to be judged by God and
whether He lets you live up there for good
or sends you down into the fiery depths
of Hell it lives eternally, Just where
do you want to spend Eternity, Gale
Miss Hooker asked me in class today when
she wanted to know who’d gotten saved since
last week’s Sunday School class, which I missed, and
I didn’t raise my hand but said instead
I don’t want to die at all, ma’am, I said
I like things fine here, and I like you,
too, which actually shut her up for
about fifteen seconds, I know because
I counted ’em, it’s the same number in
years that we have between us, Miss Hooker
and I I mean, that must signify some
-thing so after Sunday School I brought it
up again with her and swore on the Good
Book I’d get saved if she agreed that it
was a sign from on high but she said, Gale,
thou shalt not tempt the Lord they God, go and
sin no more, go home she meant, so I did
but didn’t, didn’t sin less I mean. Love.


One day I’ll be dead and then I’ll see God
but now I’m alive and all I see are
His creations, yours truly included,
that is if He made everything, at Sun
-day School that’s what they swear to, that God made
the world in six days and on the seventh
He rested and so should we but I’m not
tired on Sundays, just worried about next
week, which really starts on Monday, not Sun
-day like the calendar claims, who knows what
the truth really is except for maybe
God and Jesus and the Holy Ghost but
again to know it, too, the truth I mean,
I’ve got to die myself and join ‘em and
that can only mean that God is dead and
ditto Jesus and the Ghost and angels
and for that matter, that spiritual
matter, all the good dead folks in Heaven
and maybe even the good ones who wound
up in Hell along with those who belong
there, but if God’s perfect then He can’t make
mistakes and so He wouldn’t be God but
if He had to take it easy on day
seven, maybe catch His breath or sleep in
like my father does then how almighty
can He be, and then there’s the fact, if it
is one, that God’s a He so right there it
ought to be clear that He can’t be perfect,
no He is, at least no man, not even
Mister Rogers or Captain Kangaroo
but again I guess I’ll only know what’s
what when I go and die myself and then
it will be too late at least for me and
even worse how will I bring it to all
people everywhere, nobody’s done it
yet so what that tells me is that once you
know it must be in a way so person
-al that it can’t possibly be shared with
anyone, like the time I caught Father

and Miss Hooker, my Sunday School teacher,
together behind our trailer-classroom
and they were holding hands and he saw me
sawing them, seeing them that is, and swore
me to secrecy, If you tell Mother,
he said, she wouldn’t understand and here’s
a dollar and starting next week you get
an extra twenty-five cents allowance
and if you want to blow it all on Cokes
and candy bars and ice cream and comic
books or the movie show, that’s fine by me,
so how could I tell him that I saw her,
Miss Hooker I mean, holding hands with some
-one else and that someone else was Mother
and she saw me and that got me out of
feeding the cat for two months and doing
my homework not at the last minute and
staying up an extra hour even on
school nights and me only ten years old and
the only solution is to have her
move in with us, Miss Hooker that is, there’s
space in my bedroom for a cot and I’ll
sleep there and she can have my bed but one
day when I’m dead and want to know the truth
this won’t be part of it, Miss Hooker and
my folks, but I might ask God anyway
why He couldn’t have hung in there longer
and worked a few more hours, or is that
millions of years, to make life perfect and
not just damn-near perfect–but I know what
He’ll say, He’ll say Well, I made the Garden
of Eden and then I’ll interrupt with
Stop right there, buddy, it’s not like I was
born yesterday and maybe He’ll say Well,
that makes two of us. We’ll share a good laugh.


I love Jesus plenty but will it be
enough to keep me out of Hell when I
die and I’m only ten years old now and
getting older every second, make that
every moment, and so it won’t be too
long before I’m 100 unless God
takes me before then, I hope not, I don’t
want to die, I don’t want to die at all,
it means the end of everything or at
least a really long sleep and I don’t like
to sleep but a few hours each night, action
is what I crave and sometimes I dream dreams,
crazy ones, I think because I’m so damned
bored even when I’m unconscious and I
never can be satisfied even with
ordinary life, not even with it
I mean, and sometimes I guess I fall in
-to sin, swiping candy and cheating
on quizzes at school and pulling pranks like
phoning the drug store to ask if they’ve got
Prince Albert in the can and if so then
they’d better let ‘im out, it’s harmless stuff
I think but I’m afraid that it adds up
and one day when I’m dead and I hope that
I catch God and Jesus on a good day
for Them, anyway, I’ll have to defend
how I’ve lived my life and I understand
from what they tell me at Sunday School I’d
better have some damn good answers because
every single lousy thing I’ve done and
all the things I should’ve done but didn’t
I’ll have to account for and I hope that
I’m up for it, I mean, if I kick at
99 I’ll be showing up up there
pretty damn tired and probably feeble,
even if the body’s dead you’ve got to
know that that’s got to affect your soul, too,
and 99 years, that’s a damn long time
so I’ll have more to explain than the other
dead folks and I’m already pretty sure
that if I get to go to Heaven it
won’t be for very long, only enough
to get a taste for the angelic life
and then suddenly one of the angels
will whisk me off to Hell and that will be
torture, as I’m roasting on Satan’s pitch
-fork-rotisserie, remembering how
nice Heaven was and knowing how hard it
is to get in and not only get in
but to stay in and before Eternal
Life in Heaven or Hell commences I
have to love the Lord with all my heart and
all my soul and I forget the third, all
my guts is it? and I hope that Jesus
forgives me but that’s a Hell of a thing
to ask, especially of a ten-year
-old knuckleheaded kid who’s flunking third
grade again mainly because he worries
so damn much about where his soul will go
when his body croaks–after Sunday School
today I laid it out for my teacher
and asked her if she was a betting man
–woman in this case–what are the odds that
I’ll get to spend Forever with Jesus
and God and the Holy Ghost and angels
and saints and awfully good folks and my
dog, my dead dog, he got run over, if
he’s not up there then nobody is, if
he’s not up there then I don’t want to be
either and she answered Gambling’s a sin
and then she sent me home and as I tromped
Jesus stopped me on the way through the woods
and blessed me and when I fell to my knees
He bade me get up and then He said Don’t
worry, whosoever believeth in me
will never kick and then I fell at His
feet again and passed out and with visions
of how beautiful Heaven is and that’s
how I got saved but the truth is that it’s
all a lie, I made it all up, it sounds
grand but it hasn’t happened yet and is
it Jesus or Satan or yours truly
who’s fast and loose? Speaking of Trinities.