Joy Beneath An Empty Sky

I live my life, and I do what I must,
And I do what I want for fun, of course,
And I do this without fear of falling to dust,
Without fear of hell or a greater force

That might condemn me if I falter.
I know there is crime, but there is no sin.
There is no god to force me to alter,
No goddess to condemn me and my kin

Either unto the tenth generation or before.
Fear cannot make me its permanent toy,
And no god's punishment fear I any more,
And I know what it is to have sinless joy.

I might hurt someone if I act carelessly,
But those people are others who are mortal,
My friends, and my family, and me.
There is no god waiting beyond a portal,

Waiting to yell at me for not bowing to laws
That sometimes seem to have a reason,
And sometimes seem to have utterly no cause.
I need not pray or fast at a certain season

Save by doctor's orders, or other things
That mortals generally, to me, explain.
There are no furies soaring on hell-wings
To take me down if I cause others pain.

There is my conscience, and there are laws
Which I know about, and could break.
But there is no immortal force to give me pause,
No fear of hell to make me writhe and ache,

No fear of something dread beyond the grave.
I believe in humanity's heart and its brain,
But not in a soul that I must damn or save,
And not in endless bliss or endless pain.

Shadows are shadows; they are not devils.
The world has enough of its human crimes
And criminals without inventing other evils.
Perhaps they were needed in other times,

When we did not have the tools to understand
As we are beginning to have them now.
But now, I think, fear of death must command
The greatest number of mortals to pray and bow.

The idea that there is something beyond
This flash of life, or beyond the earth's sky-
Even if the god lives at the bottom of a pond-
Has comforted many who are about to die.

But why fear escaping our body's chain?
What is oblivion, that we should fear it?
Death is freedom, can be the ending to pain,
And blackness does not mean a living spirit

Caught somewhere between grave and space,
Wailing, alone and lost, silent, forever.
Because there is no evidence otherwise in place,
I think that death the last chain will sever,

And I will not go on, but end, and die in truth.
Religions that say life does not end with the breath
Are another way of seeking the Fountain of Youth,
Another attempt to deny and hobble Death.

But it is coming, with its ending of the "I."
Better, then, this life to love and fiercely desire,
To run and play in joy beneath an empty sky,
Free alike of weeping gods and fear of hellfire.