How to Read Poetry While Drinking Monster Alone in a Dimly Lit Cubicle by Cleo 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.


Cleo Qian is a writer based in New York.

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