A Working List

By Tracey Knapp

  1. Tell your online boyfriend your real age.
  2. Sweep the seeds and leaves from the porch. The winds were harsh last week.
  3. Practice sneezing more quietly. Stop the throat-scratch hacking. Who
    could sleep next to that?
  4. Why are you still single? Ask your friends. They know everything about
    your failures.
  5. Dump your shitty friends who can detail your failures verbatim back to you.
  6. Do the dishes. Remove your socks from the bed sheets.
  7. Bobby pins are not Q-Tips. Baby wipes are not bathtubs.
  8. Commit to eating like a person. With other people. Stop wasting your
    money on wine and prepackaged food at the 7-Eleven.
  9. Spend more time talking to yourself outdoors at night when stoned.
  10. Stop drinking wine. Stop drinking. But only when alone. Except if you
    were drinking with people beforehand, and you came home to your dog.
  11. Watch less TV. Except, re-watch the movie Frances Ha. You are a dancer,
    and you have dreams.
  12. All those goddamn books you buy and barely open.
  13. Make the world more beautiful! Take one earring, preferably dangled and
    missing its mate. Hang it from an old nail or forgotten hook. A quiet,
    lucky place.
  14. Quit losing earrings. Quit earrings. Quit things.
  15. Put your old jeans in a box and then the attic. And someday when you
    move into a new bright house with a new love, you’ll pull them out, thin
    and mothy, you’ll delight: I CAN’T BELIEVE IT! THEY ALMOST FIT!
  16. Grow things. Give away things. Give away your neighbor’s excessive
    lemons. Your tight jeans.
  17. Recycle more. Stop hoarding the little gifts that someone gives you when
    they kind of liked you because they barely knew you. The broken ceramic
    rabbit isn’t even emblematic.
  18. Appreciate your one good knee, your moisturized cuticles, and the hair
    that grew back on your head after you got rid of that fucking IUD.
  19. Reach into that folder of old letters pull out the one with the nicest paper.
    Don’t read it. Just touch it and let it be the cramp in the gut of all the
    people who used to love you by hand.
  20. Celebrate your old-man dog. In the following order, give him: a walk, a
    scratch, a bath, a treat, a nap, a brush, a walk, a treat, a nap.
  21. Write down a list of what you could do to be your best.
  22. Narrow it down to ten.

Tracey Knapp’s first full-length collection of poems, Mouth, was published by 42
Miles Press. Knapp has received awards and scholarships from La Romita School
of Art in Terni, Italy, the Tin House Writers’ Workshop, and the Dorothy Sargent
Rosenberg Poetry Fund. Her work has appeared in The Cento: A Collection of
Collage Poems, Five Points, and The Hampden Sydney Poetry Review.

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