when i die

when i die

cremate my body

and bring my ashes to a rave in berlin.

shoot me out of the sprinklers

as the beat drops

and whistles blow.

sweaty harnessed men

feel my dust on their tongues,

raise their arms in ecstasy.

when i die

forgo my urn for a disco ball

and immortalize my dust in a revolving mirror.

center me on the ceiling

of a dark, pulsing club

as the dance floor shatters

and bodies multiply,

refracted by the light of my spirit.

at the disco of my death

play sylvester and donna summer

and carry me out in a pearl casket

encrusted with lapis lazuli

and draped in crushed blue velvet.

when i die

release me from these female bones

and let




sequined and seductive*

fabulous and funereal

I dance through the gates of heaven

for empyrean i came,

and empyrean i did return.

when i die
there will be no

to shovel on my body, no

to kneel before, no

to dish, no


to bless, no.

the funeral will be neither Jewish nor Italian
but rather histrionic,
and filled with screaming queens.

when i die

I want you to:

put your hands on my body*

lick my butt*

move me to poetry*

let the beans burn all night*

cast me in a john waters film

where the antagonist snorts the corpse

like they did with Acker’s ashes.

when i die

excavate my chest cavity,

and crack me open like a book.

dig below the flesh, let

the tree rings of my chest reveal—

justin chin beneath a rib,

cookie mueller by my breast,

saint beneath the heart,

foucault on my sternum,

essex hemphill on my brain,

and wojnarowicz where he’s been stationed for years,

pumping through my blood.

(the accumulation of 24 years of growth,

nestled within the cracks and crevices of me).

when i die

i will be amongst the artists who have authored me

yet never had a chance to meet.

perhaps they will still be wearing their eighties best

and i will introduce them to pronouns, beyonce, and prep,

as we compare our fabulous funerals,

and lament the rise of the conservative gay.

though most of the knowledge i will bring

has come from them,

and i will thank them

for this body that has made it safely to the grave.


Various lines in this poem come from other writers. The appropriations are cited below:

sequined and seductive* Essex Hemphill

put your hands on my body* David Wojnarowicz

lick my butt* Justin Chin

move me to poetry* Assoto Saint

let the beans burn all night* Essex Hemphill

This version of “when I die” was published in the Spring 2019 Queer Ancestors’ Project Anthology. Many thanks to Celeste Chan for her guidance throughout the writing process.