When I Die

by Paul Hooker

Spare us the pasty euphemisms: “He has passed,”
or “crossed to the other side,” as though a sheep
slipped through some metaphysic fence for greener grass.

Spare us the pious “He’s with God.” No god may keep
what was not a god’s to take, and will not be.
Where gods demur to sow, they cannot claim to reap.

Spare us the overwrought, the puff-stuffed eulogy.
Deeds, like fireflies, offer but the briefest gleaming;
their light a glimmer in the dark before they flee.

Spare us, as well, the erudite discourse on meaning,
untangling some arcane apocalyptic thread
from the raveled skein, the knotted yarn of dreaming.

Brave the clean-shaved danger of the word: Dead.
Beyond the looming end, these phrases incomplete,
these words, if living now, shall faint upon this bed.

Then raise a glass in toast to love, however fleet.
Sing rousing songs of courage, though the night draws close,
Then go your way to live, to love, to sin, to sleep.

Some say the dark bestows a blessing upon those
who sleep the trackless hours of night. They wake
new-shaped, first fruits of new creation. Is it so?

Let it be so. For all must sleep, if not all wake.