Late Night Poetry #23: 15 Ways to Stay Alive

I’m back with another poem this evening, another ‘after poem’ taking loose inspiration from Daphne Gottlieb’s 15 Ways to Stay Alive. I’m not sure how effective this poem is as it was hard to find a thread of meaning but I think it came together eventually. It’s not polished and it’s a bit odd, but I hope you enjoy it anyway! I used a prompt from Amy Kay’s April Prompts from this year, referencing Gottlieb’s poem as inspiration and trying not to be too literal.

15 Ways to Stay Alive

after Daphne Gottlieb

  1. Don’t look at the swinging pendulum. Especially not the shadows of seconds as they slide through the air.
  2. Wear dungarees as if you’re a toddler again. Or a substitute art teacher.
  3. Pretend you don’t understand numbers. Even though you never did.
  4. Pretend you live in a vacuum.
  5. Offer the pendulum to a toddler. Explain seconds to them.
  6. Start a stopwatch. Let it run forever.
  7. Finger paint your history. Use all the spectrum colours. Breathe in sunlight, exhale gold leaf.
  8. Realise that time doesn’t really exist. Dungarees are practical and comfortable at any age. This moment in time stretches beyond seconds. We are suspended in air.
  9. Use the stopwatch to measure your heartbeats. Use it to measure the heartbeats of your loved ones.
  10. Practice using light as an aide-mémoire. Look at the moon as if it is a clock. Watch videos of the tides.
  11. Don’t believe in ghosts. Don’t believe the stopwatch. Don’t believe.
  12. Pretend you made up the pendulum, and only the light exists.
  13. Pretend there is no darkness.
  14. Pretend life is not measured by ticking, that stopwatches never run out, that heartbeats won’t one day end, and we live in a warm sunlit vacuum. Pretend that our lives are just one long stretch of this moment and not chopped into hours. Pretend that the moon and sun are all we need, and the tides are our seconds.
  15. Finger paint in gold.

This post is part of NanoPoblano, a Cheer Peppers production! If you’d like to see what other people are writing and sharing, please click the image below.

2 thoughts on “Late Night Poetry #23: 15 Ways to Stay Alive

  1. I don’t need to pretend to not understand numbers. I already don’t understand them. I figured that one out when my oldest daughter came looking to me for help with her algebra homework last year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! Dreading if my nephew ever asks for maths homework help one day…


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