Spake the Raven, "Nevermore"

Speaking at my Mothers Funeral


Ah the lies we tell at Funerals,

the things that are never said!


I am my family’s heart and tongue

but they trust neither one,

afraid the “Bad Seed” will say something


or cause an ugly scene,

they prefer the paid-for, cut and paste platitudes

of some Certificate III qualified “Celebrant”

and to hide their hypocrisy

behind bland and polite facades.

Let the lawyers loose later

to tie up the loose ends. They want

nothing messy or uncomfortable now.

They prey for a quick and clinical ceremony

and a swift return to business as usual.


The Celebrant has been secretly instructed

to try and limit my turn at the microphone,

but I am a poet with over twenty years experience

of people trying to get me off a stage

before I’m good and ready,

so she has no hope at all.

I look out. There are faces there so terrified

of what I might know or do or say

that I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Instead I ignore them and I start to sing.

I sing my own loss and sorrow

for the poor lost soul that was my mother.

Birds gather at the doorway and windows to listen.

I sing to the birds.

The silence shouts.

Only my daughter weeps.

The bad-tempered Celebrant publicly rebukes me

for taking too long,

swiftly winds up the show

and stalks off.

Later there is tea and scones on the lawn.

I feed my scones to the magpies and butcher birds and crows.

The sullen staff tell us we have to move on, there’s a big

funeral on next with a hundred and fifty people

and our tiny affair is taking too long.


My family leaves making

insincere promises to stay in touch,

get the kids together, etc. etc.

I wave goodbye, knowing

I will never see any of them

ever again.

crow dancing


Tale Jpig


tai chi hand strawberry circle

The Reverend Hellfire is a practising Performance Poet, President of the Kurilpa Institute of Creativity inc., and an ordained Minister of the Church of Spiritual Humanism AND the Church of the Universe.

De-programmings done free.



~ by reverendhellfire on December 15, 2013.


  1. I could see and hear the whole scene, Rev, and it was totally authentic. I recently – well, a year ago nearly, had my wife’s (of 37 years!) funeral. The family – hers, not mine, are her executors. They haven’t settled matters yet, and I think they don’t trust me. But we didn’t have a grumpy celebrant, I’m glad to say. Anyhow she had no chance of stopping you from having your say!

  2. Ceremony else, along with false promises. Why do we eat at funerals?
    Always seemed a rather macabre practice. Well written sermon, Rev…

    • Gotta keep the blood sugar up I guess. Actually there used to be this really weird practise called “sin-eating”, where they’d pile a big plate of food on the deceased’s chest, the theory being that the food would absorb their sin or essence or whatever. Then professional “sin-eaters” would be paid to come and eat the food off the corpses chest, thereby taking on the deads sins so they could float off guilt free to heaven. The “Sin eaters’ were usually poverty stricken outcasts glad of a chance for a free meal. Personally, if I’d been a sin-eater, I would have snuck back to the grave say about twelve hours later and give them back all the shit they tried to get me to swallow.

  3. Oh this is close to home and I can only agree with the annoyance of hypocrisy on show for funerals and the anger under surfaces needing to rise

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