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  • kjoannerixon

Our Numbered Days

I picked Our Numbered Days up off the library shelf thinking I vaguely remembered Hilborn’s name, and lo and behold, I was right: this kid made one of my favorite Button Poetry performance videos back in the day. I had no idea he’d put out a book, although it makes sense that he would. And in fact, this book contains the poem I was remembering seeing performed, “Liminality.”

I’m so glad to have found this book and re-remembered this poem, considering that I’m trying to put together a workshop on performing slam poetry for some high school students who are planning to compete in Louder Than A Bomb. I think I’ll use “Liminality,” since one of my students is a kid with a stutter(-like speech impairment) who is nervous about performing poetry on stage in front of people. That and probably, I don’t know, “Dinosaurs In the Hood” by Danez Smith, and something by Andrea Gibson. It's all coming together!

Other poems in this book that I thought were great: “Here and Away.”

“It’s so easy to think and keep thinking

until you are the last person left on earth.

Until the entire world is no larger than the space

between your bed and the light switch,

but I hear the world is ending soon.

When we go, and we’re all going to go,

I will be a part of it.”

“The Sadness Factory:”

“the lines

for samples are prohibitively long: New Apartment

Sadness; Everything Is Great but Something

Feels Off Sadness; A Midsummer

Night’s Sadness; The Sadness of Wanting

To Break Something but Being Too Weak;

The Sadness that Comes from Always Knowing

Exactly Where You Are.”

And here’s the entirety of “Moving Day,” because I think it encapsulates everything that I think is lovely and flawed and aching about this collection, in that way that poetry makes you understand what cannot be explained:

Today, as I was finishing the move

across town (and isn’t it funny

how cliché, the literal catharsis

of throwing out all the things

I no longer need: my Seasonal

Affective Disorder lamp, all the

egg cartons, you know, for the project,

all of my ex-girlfriend’s stuff

that survived the previous two purges:

curling iron, candles, painting

of her own face, swimsuit, bottle

opener, blender, all the now-dead

Christmas lights, all the food I can’t save,

the chair, the older chair, the sheets

in which the bad thing happened, the things

in the bottom of the box that I will

try to landfill but will, as always, keep: the toy

my mother sent me that is just a squishy heart

filled with larvae, the bicycle

part I cannot identify, the handwriting

I also cannot identify, the sheets in which

the bad thing happened, the sugar

bowl, the sugar, the textbooks, the

instructions and signs and limits) a sparrow

flew just over my feet, its wings beating

against its own body, a sound not unlike

applause, and it hit the ground, and because

it was dead it lay still.


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