This is a pretty confusing poem because it’s literally stream of consciousness, so please bear with me. There will be a brief explanation at the end of the post!
Deadmen tell the only tales
I wonder what heaven truly is.
But I suppose it’s every man’s right to wonder.
And then I wonder if that is true
Or if I’m sinning and Moses just broke that tablet,
Or if the Popes threw that particular book out
And I’ve been damning myself longer than I have lived–
And if we’re all doomed because some dead man said so
And another dead man decided we shouldn’t know so:
And all we have left are the remains of dead men’s yeses
And other’s best guesses.
Then I wonder why I can understand hell,
Or just why it rings so much clearer as opposed to heaven.
It’s not as if I dream about it, at least not willingly.
It’s not as if I’ve been to it, but people claim to have given
me pieces of heaven. Like a slice of pie or a bit of cake.
“Oh that’s heavenly!” they exclaim, but they’d sooner explain hellfire.
Maybe we understand more of suffering because we’ve suffered
Or maybe hell is all we have to wonder since we’ve tasted heaven.
Then I wonder about angels and demons and the inbetweens.
I asked my mum and she mentioned that she believed in them.
I asked my pop and he said that he believed in neither.
There’s life. There’s death. There is nothing else, he said.
There is nothing else and he’s right; but in nothing there is more.
Like how darkness is filled with absolute faith that there is more.
Someone is always behind the door and in the window;
Someone is always around the bend like we are on this side of it.
When we are promised nothing more: We are given more.
Then I wonder again about heaven.
Like if I really want to go there because I’ve tasted it.
Sure, it makes me happy. Sure it’s perfect.
But—but what is perfect and can I handle perfect?
I like my broken edges and worn faces and jagged strips.
I like to bleed out and to fall and to pull myself up in the dark.
I like the bruises of hitting the chair or the chair hitting me.
I like the bitter thoughts that keep me company at night.
I like happiness fine.
But my heaven would be hardship-if it were mine-hardship and victory.
Because I’m vain. And
I wonder if on some tablet somewhere, I’ve already been shut out.
Peter threw the key away years ago and the Pearly Gates are gone.
If God sent His final word and some dead man said I shouldn’t hear it.
What if everything is wrong and no one is right and heaven is hell
And the demons are angels and there is nothing on the other side of the door.
Beyond the bend is nothing;
The world never had anything to give.
Okay! So this is a doozy. sort of.
Some background knowledge that could be helpful is Moses got the Commandments on tablets. He broke one when he got back to tell the people because he was so angry at them worshiping a false idol that he literally smashed a tablet. Therefore, there are 5 (or more or less) Commandments that we never know. Also, added on to this, the Popes and other high ups in the Church picked the books that are in the Bible, so some were thrown out.
And really this poem is exploring the idea that what we except as fact is only what someone before us had said as fact, especially in regards to dogma. I hope you enjoyed it even if it’s tough; I was having fun doing stream of consciousness 🙂