How to Not Drink, and Other Useful Suggestions – Abigail Conklin

today's poem vertical

How to Not Drink, and Other Useful Suggestions.


Go to the staircase behind
your building, next
to the parkway, and run them
until you’re wobbly in the knees
and your ribs are bubblegum.

Make a pot of coffee
at 9pm, and take a melatonin
pill with it.

Text lots of people because
you are crazy.

Drink more coffee.

Fuck it, just drink.


Sit down to write about
your internal landscape,
only to find
that confronting your internal landscape
just makes you want to drink.



Speak aloud to the wall
shared with the neighbors.
Maybe they’ll stop practicing piano.
You’re speaking
to a wall and a piano.



Try valiantly in some
brave, Washington-Crossing-
the-Delaware way,
to have some compassion for yourself.
Except the coffee is wigging
you out a little, and the neighbors
are still playing piano and



Draw a face for every person
you’ve ever loved.
If you run out, go back,
and draw petals around their faces
until they’re nothing but flowers.
And if you run out of petals, go back
and color them in black
so you have bouquets of the plague.



Think something devastating
yet insightful
about how you have loved,
and wind up drinking.



Imagine owning a houseplant.
Vines tendrilling over the sides
of a pot, and colonizing the floor beneath,
cleaning the air in the room
as you sleep.
Water it sparingly, so it does not
grow mold or drown.


Abigail Kirby Conklin lives in New York City, where she works in education and curriculum development. Her poetry has been featured by Indolent Books’ online series “What Rough Beast,” the blog Bonus Cut, and the writers’ community The Bridge. Her work is appearing in the Winter 2017 edition of The Lampeter Review.

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