Humanist Voices in Verse: Some Instructions

This week we’re pleased to publish “Some Instructions” by HNN Poetry Editor Daniel Thomas Moran. He served as Poet Laureate of Suffolk County, New York from 2005 to 2007. His work has appeared in The New York Times, National Forum, and the Poetry Salzburg Review. He is a Clinical Assistant Professor at Boston University’s School of Dental Medicine. His website is

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Some Instructions

When my time comes.
Don’t lay me in a box
with long bronze handles.
Don’t comb my hair
the way you always
thought it should go
and lay my head on satin.
Don’t polish my shoes.
Don’t surround me
with grand bouquets.
Flowers die too soon.
Don’t embrace one another
or blot the grief
from your eyes.
I will not have it.
There should be
no coffee, no cakes.
No one sing Amazing Grace.
And please, no churches,
no suggestions of the
mysterious will of
a god I deny.
I am not going home and
I will not rest in peace.
There can be no
peace in extinction.
Be certain that
I did not go willingly. Yet,
forego your misgivings.
Act as you will, as you must.
I will not raise up
a single objection, only
Be sure to have someone say
That given the chance,
I would have stayed a bit longer.

—Daniel Thomas Moran