The Day After My Death

By Jeff Worley

Featured Image: Italian or Swiss Town by Frederic Edwin Church 1868

—after lines by Michael Van Walleghen

The moon, stars and weather

will happen as they always have,

though surely with my breath gone

the wind, in some slight measure,

will falter. Absent my footsteps

the earth will feel along its spine

a momentary shiver of abandonment.

And my friends? Won’t they gather

with me again, in whatever purple-

swagged room, for wine and stories,

some of them nearly impossibly true?

Meanwhile, the mailman, humming

like a bee in a blossom, will slip

my name into the metal box:

an unsigned note from The Paris Review

saying, simply, Sorry.

Jeff Worley, Kentucky Poet Laureate for 2019-2020, is the author of six books of poetry and an anthology from University Press of Kentucky titled What Comes Down to Us: 25 Contemporary Kentucky Poets. His book, The Only Time There Is (1995), won the Mid-List Press first-book competition. His third, Happy Hour at the Two Keys Tavern, was named 2006 Kentucky Book of the Year in Poetry and nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Worley has received numerous other awards for his writing, including a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship; over 500 of his poems have appeared in literary magazines and journals in the past 45 years. He and his wife, Linda, divide their time between Lexington and their cabin at Cave Run Lake. His website can be found at

Originally published in NOR Spring 2010.

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