An Obituary for the Living

Because Speculative Poetry Should Have a Message

image: Shutterstock

Speculative poetry is about painting the future or the impossible in colorful strokes. But I would add, these images must tell a story and a message.

Post-apocalyptic fiction is mega-popular. But, after the apocalypse, who gets to rebuild? Should we? Who suffers more, the dead or those alive?

Survivor’s guilt is real. We mourn the dead, but who mourns the living?

It is customary to write an obituary for the dead. The following poem is an obituary for the living. Listen.


An Obituary for the Living

by Ingmar Albizu


Image: Freepk

Mayday! Mayday! Earth was under attack.

The End just happened and few survived.


The flags do not fly at all,

The bells rang with sadness.

Eight billion dead in the extinction event.

Eight billion fallen dreams of eight billion souls.

And the winds carry the tears of a hundred thousand survivors.


And we don’t know if it is safe outside.

And we don’t know if the air is breathable.

And we don’t know if the soil will harvest.

And we don’t know if water is drinkable.


The voices of the fallen rise. Their voice a song of mourning.


Do not wear black; do not light candles.

Wear green for hope and yellow for optimism.

Light bonfires for warm (and toasted marshmallows).


In lieu of flowers, send food rations.

They are starving for hope and courage.


“Life goes on”, they say…

What they don’t say is that it goes on sleeplessness,


With the headaches and nausea of loss,

With the painful grief of existing,

As if you did not deserve it.


Put down that bottle, it won’t erase the trauma.

Put away that guilt, no tears can wash it.

Do not isolate yourself. People need you.

Find the courage, find the motivation. Be.

image: EFE


When your mouth becomes dry and your eyes moist,

When the temptation to devolve into barbarism hits,

When faith in a higher power diminishes,

When dread engulfs you… Be.

Be human. Be civilized. Be sapiens.


The voices of the death preach to you,

“Put down that bottle and wipes those tears,

We forgive you. Now live.”


You survived for a reason. The story is not ended.

Bereavement can wait.

The dead are at peace; those alive are not.


The living gets to continue, rebuild, and create new life.

Better yet, they get to rewrite history. Make it epic.


When the flowers return and the sun reappears,

When the smoke dissipates and the stars wink again,

When kites fly through the skies in July,

And when famine gives way to harvest,

Then, and only then, put up that bottle in a toast to mankind.


The End just happened and a few survived.


until not a single one of us is safe and happy,

Do not rest in peace.


The End


Reader, did you like the poem? Should we mourn the living?

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January 2023