Stay Alive

Stay alive, even when roads entangle you
and cars head towards you with spider teeth.
When you’re walking past the Arabian Gulf
and the tides open their hands, waving you in.

I feel hypocritical when I say you should stay alive.
I will be at my desk, staring at vanilla colored walls
or at a barbecue, hovering around a cooler full of beers,
and the thought of death remains an intrusive trespasser
breaking through all the locks on my door
placing a hand over my mouth, so I can’t even smile
in the presence of friends. Even in times of triumph
my name scrawled on house deeds and diplomas
thoughts of death are mold under the carpet, poisoning air.

But I’m pleading you to stay alive whenever
you tell me and our friends you don’t want this life.
You estimate your life span to end in your 30s
so I mention little moments of joy; coffee foam
on top a mug with the outline of a kitten’s face,
the glow of an evening sun seeping through
your car window, the promise of lavender skies
over the mosques of Istanbul – we said we’d go there
someday… inshallah.

I bring up the face of your future lover
even if you’re convinced she or he doesn’t exist
but you will find them. The way butterflies float
thousands of miles towards a meeting place
guided only by ancestral memories.
Your lips will eventually make a nest
in the palms of a precious person’s hands.

Continue to take those steps to stay alive
sitting on your therapist’s couch, negative feelings
spilling out and staining the cushions, heavy
and grotesque as squid ink. And speaking
to Allah during prayer – when those feelings
are carried upwards and soaked into clouds.

Even though I don’t believe it for myself
I want to believe you’ll live long enough
that death’s voice will barely be a whimper
a locust that buried itself under a stone.

About the Author

Danyal Kim lives in Chicago where he works at an office job at a government agency by day and writes poetry by night. He will occasionally perform his poems at open mics around the city. He is set to be published in a few poetry magazines, such as the Collective Unrest and Write City Magazine. His greatest joys in life are writing, cooking, and traveling.