Poetry: How to Live

How to Live
–Charles Harp­er Webb
From Ampli­fied Dog

          “I don’t know how to live.”
                    –Sharon Olds

Eat lots of steak and salmon and Thai cur­ry and mu shu
pork and fresh green beans and baked potatoes
and fresh straw­ber­ries with vanil­la ice cream.
Kick-box three days a week. Stay strong and lean.
Go fly-fish­ing every chance you get, with friends

who’ll teach you secrets of the stream. Play guitar
in a rock band. Read Dos­toyevsky, Whit­man, Kafka,
Shake­speare, Twain. Col­lect Uncle Scrooge comics.
See Peck­in­pah’s Straw Dogs, and every­thing Mon­ty Python made.
Love freely. Treat ex-part­ners as kindly

as you can. Wish them as well as you’re able.
Snorkel with moray eels and yel­low tangs. Watch
spin­ner dol­phins earn their name as your pan­ga slam-
bams over glit­ter­ing seas. Try not to lie; it sours
the soul. But being a pat­sy sours it too. If you cause

a car wreck, and aren’t hurt, but some­one is, apologize
silent­ly. Learn from your mis­take. Walk gratefully
away. Let your insur­ance han­dle it. Nev­er dri­ve drunk.
Don’t be a drunk, or any kind of “aholic.” It’s bad
Eng­lish, and bad news. Don’t berate your­self. If you lose

a game or prize you’ve earned, remem­ber the winners
his­to­ry for­gets. Remem­ber them if you do win. Enjoy
suc­cess. Have kids if you want and can afford them,
but don’t make them your rea­son-to-be. Spare them that
mis­ery. Take them to the beach. Mail order sea

mon­keys once in your life. Give some­one the full-on
ass-kick­ing he (or she) has earned. Keep a box turtle
in good heath for twen­ty years. If you get sick, don’t thrive
on suf­fer­ing. There’s noth­ing noble about pain. Die
if you need to, the best way you can. (You define best.)

Go to church if it helps you. Grow toma­toes to put store-
bought in per­spec­tive. Lis­ten to Elvis and Bach. Unless
you’re tone deaf, own Perl­man’s “Med­i­ta­tion from Thais.”
Don’t look for hid­den mean­ings in a car­di­nal’s song.
Don’t think TV char­ac­ters talk to you; that’s crazy.

Don’t be too sane. Work hard. Loaf eas­i­ly. Have good
friends, and be good to them. Be immoderate
in mod­er­a­tion. Spend lit­tle time anes­thetized. Dive
the Great Bar­ri­er Reef. Don’t touch the coral. Watch
for sea snakes. Smile for the cam­era. Don’t say “Cheese.”

Cur­rent Mood: 🙂chip­per
Cur­rent Loca­tion: home
Cyn is a proud Mommy & Mémé, professional geek, avid reader, fledgling coder, enthusiastic gamer (TTRPGs), occasional singer, and devoted stitcher.
Posts created 4241

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