Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie prompt this morning reads:
Prompt #81 “Instruction Manual for the Dead”
For this prompt I either want you to invent your own mythology surrounding the afterlife (you can combine and utilize existing philosophies to create an original perspective) or to elaborate on existing philosophy. In the Tibetan Book of the Dead there are actual instructions for the newly departed to navigate the netherworld. These instructions are chanted to the deceased by trained monks as part of a unique death ritual. Of all the after life mythologies I have explored, the Tibetan Buddhist philosophy paints the clearest visual of the beyond so it might be a good place to start your inquiry. You can even take the stance that we are already dead and that this life is false like the Dustmen of Planescape Torment. If this life is false how do we break the spell?
There are no right or wrong answers and you don’t even have to write something that reflects your personal beliefs just explore.
Here’s one of my poems that fits, I think.
I read that there are standards
for the declaration of dead.
(How is it measured? Who measures?)
This is the undead proclaiming certainty
over what they cannot know. And yet,
when you cross borders the dead here
may still be living on the other side of the line.
At night, the dead take surveys:
Tick here if you are dead, there if undead
or indicate on the line below if you hold
some other status. Ghost is the third option.
Dead travellers must carry their death notices
at all times, be prepared to present them
or take the chance of being hooked up again
to tubes and wires that pump a body up
to a semblance of an undead state.
The dead hide their faces behind hands folded in final prayers.
Behind their hands, the dead are laughing.
Carol A. Stephen
Poem inspired by a CBC.ca excerpt, Mar. 19, 2014
It’s a question you would think medical science would have answered long ago – when are you dead? But in “Dead Enough” the fifth estate explores how the standards for when and how people are declared dead can vary from province to province and even from hospital to hospital. Bob McKeown looks at how, in the rush to meet the need for life-saving organ transplants, some doctors are worried that we may be pushing the ethical boundaries.
Oh wow this is excellent! Love it XD
Thanks! I want to say it was a fun write, but not that death is fun. Just that the idea of standards for determining dead seemed somewhat bizarre.
Well I like to keep us on our toes haha
Ah – I love this idea…having to carry a “status of death” card with you…with the ongoing discussions about doctor assisted suicides etc., it’s a very topical poem.
Thanks, Sharon. Sometimes the oddest things spark a poem!
Interesting idea that even in death we have to prove our ‘status’ with identification cards of death. Really enjoyed this one :-)
Thanks for enjoying and for the visit!