We practice everyday:
checking off boxes,
kissing loved ones goodnight,
and preparing our bodies for storage.
We wrap ourselves in amniotic blankets
and melt into the night
trusting that we’ll awaken—
and usually wanting to.
We’re born into each new day,
stretching joints and blinking at lights
as if for the first time,
so ignorant of what’s ahead
we’ll often look back on our morning naivety
and laugh or cry at what we see.

We know we cannot live there though,
in that nostalgia-tinted looking glass,
cannot snatch a single hurtful word
out of the air after we’ve sent it
buzzing like a mosquito into an ear.
Nor can we project our voices indefinitely
into the caverns of history.
Our words will echo until they fade
or until someone else picks them up
and shouts them ricocheting through time
just to hear how they sound,
and then they will be their words, not ours.

No, we can live only here
in this moment,
brief as a snowflake drifting through a flame;
we melt into night
so when the time comes for the eternal sleep
we’ll know just how it’s done,
only this time the womb is a coffin.
Suspended in lifeless fluids,
we are born into oblivion.


When I’m cold, dissected, studied, 
and filed away with the other meat 
laid out for the coroner to greet
I wonder what will be left of me,
the man who breathed and loved and dreamed;
who wandered the world so solemnly,
and clung to life so desperately.

Around me will be piled the faithful,
who “passed away” religiously
smililng bright and hopeful,
arrayed in all eternity–
all just as dead as I will be.

I will not leave so peacefully, 
nor am I content to think 
there’s some unending destiny 
beyond the stars behind a veil
that no one can detect or see,
but I wonder what will be left of me
when my life rots away in the garbage heap.

I’ve heard them say they must believe 
that death is not finality
that there’s something more beyond the grave.
I don’t trust anybody’s words to save
or grant eternal life to me.
My own words are the only way
I’ll live beyond mortality. 


The tattered man fidgeted, uncomfortable,
with the noose around his neck and his hands roughly tied.
His gaze moved nervously around the square,
searching for eyes he could look into
to plead for mercy, or at least compassion.
He found there neither.

A pale preacher stood and read aloud the sentence
in a flawless, practiced, scriptural voice:
“You are hereby charged with heresy
for claiming that God does not exist.
For this crime you are to be hanged to death.
Do you have any final words?”

He nodded eagerly.
“Very well, but choose them wisely,” the priest replied.
“For they will be your last.”

He looked out hopelessly into the silent crowd,
and said in a croaking, timid voice,
“I didn’t say that God does not exist;
I know as well as you do that he does!
The question is:
Did God make us, or did we make hi-”

Either way, the man was the first to know.