What a Beautiful Death

By Julia Cirignano

Thank you to the author for gifting me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Here Lies: Poems by Tom C. Hunley is a short collection of powerful poems where Hunley images his own death–envisioning many different scenarios. Using humor and simple language, he explores the importance of death and the insignificance of life.

Throughout this collection, Hunley really emphasizes how death is the reward we get after a hard-lived life, instead of a punishment or ending. He simply says,

“Death cured him of a disease

called life”

These poems relay Hunley’s death from the inside and out–examining how insignificant life really is. Yet he doesn’t express death in a negative light. He comes from the point of view that life isn’t as meaningful as we often interpret it to be, and that’s what makes it so amazing.

In one of his first few poems, Hunley explores an interesting concept that explores the random interconnectedness of everything. In this poem, he talks about how we as humans are made up of mostly water,

“[He] could have resided

in a goldfish bowl or gone woosh

down a drain or been lapped up

from a doggy dish but instead

got to have a childhood” 

Hunley expresses death in a positive light. Each time he dies, he does so in peace–full of love and joy. Within only the first poem, he says,

“who, upon rising sees his body

still sprawled on the canvas

looking so serene he forgives himself

finally for not being a champion”

While the concept of this book as a whole didn’t blow me away, Hunley constructed some great lines and ideas. Enjoy some of my favorites below,

“He knew that love felt like a color with no name”


“Who isn’t a windstorm embarrassed to ask for directions

but also afraid to subside” 


“The only songs worth hearing

make you wander the earth, dazed,

the threads that hold you together



“Laughter, like alcohol and art

can make you feel less alone”


“Once he stepped into silence

so thick it made his legs wobble”






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