How to Read Poetry While Drinking Monster Alone in a Dimly Lit Cubicle by Angela Qian

If you are lonely, read poetry.
If the poem is a love poem, break a bottle into two asymmetrical halves.
If the bottle has mead inside, lick the ferment from the ground up from your toes to your shins.
Become once more a stranger to your body.
If the bottle is empty, proceed to the next poem.
If the poem is not a love poem, identify the ways in which it is a love poem.
Name it love for a sentimental sadness, love for summer grapes, love for the child who clutches your hand,
love for a good steak and a crisp, translucent onion, love for the sweet purple comforter which covers your face when you sleep—
Or identify it as a cut poem.
If it is a cut poem, identify the ways in which the speaker is cut.
Identify if the cut was healed from a blood wound or honey.
If it is a blood wound it will howl on all fours and shriek under the moon.
If you are angry, get on your knees and shriek too.
But if you find a honey poem, think of all the bees.
The bees work industriously somewhere out there, all yellow pollen and sticky haze.
If you are a bee-lover, read poetry.
If you are a lonely insect, like all of us who crawl and never fly far enough
off this wretched Earth—
Read a love poem. Suck honey. Cut a poem open, and the pain will last one second, then a lifetime.
Let the sharp blade of the feeling slice you. One moment. Sweet open.


Angela Qian’s writing has been published in or is forthcoming from Pleiades, Shenandoah, Witness, The Common, The Guardian, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, and several other outlets. She received her MFA from NYU and is a Pushcart Prize nominee. Find more of her work at

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