Paul Bearer Says We Are All Alone

W. Todd Kaneko

“O Undertaker, I’ve been sitting all alone in the darkness of my funeral parlor.”

— Paul Bearer, WWF wrestling manager

O undertaker, there are only

so many deaths a man can enjoy

when agony glows lonesome

in the body. There is only one way

for a man to die when there is no one

to watch his shadow flicker miserable

against the wall. O undertaker —

a man can’t survive a fireball,

can’t burn alive without collecting

scars where he longs for a kiss.

A man can’t smolder like he used to

now that we have so many new words

for love — gravel, epitaph, fiery

elegies for everything we will one day

leave behind. O undertaker — I’ve been

waiting for my father’s funeral,

for that day his passing will be

marked by a woman’s fists

against his casket. There is only

one way for a man to cry, one way

for a man to say goodbye.

O undertaker — most folks believe

in that fire seething beneath

a man’s breastbone. In the evening

when you burn the body, I will step

into the crematorium and find myself

unable to bear the flame.

about the author