Survival Design Basics

BY Abigail welhouse

Step one is to stockpile, but not tell anyone about it.
Stagger home from the grocery store with pasta,
bread, granola bars, everything you’ve ever not bought
because it’s too heavy or expensive. Consider freeze
dried strawberries and dehydrated milk. Consider the end
of the world as we know it, and surviving in your Brooklyn
pantry bunker with your 500 rolls of toilet paper, because
when the world ends, the most important thing is paper
and radio waves and secret pasta and piles of cash
that you tell no one about, unless you’re the author
of a book that tells everyone not to tell anyone,
and oh, wait. Step two is to load your rifle and read
another story in the newspaper about a kid
accidentally shooting another kid. Step three
is to wonder if you’d even want to survive
in this future. Step four is to keep everyone away.
Step five is to make your own cheese and sit
gloriously alone in your cheese castle,
which has steel reinforced walls,
with one hand on your gun
and the other on the burnt world.


I Want More of Everything I Have

and all of everything I don’t have
and just wait until you see how many
colors I can make my mouth and just wait
until you see how I’ve covered up
my paint chips with glitter
and my wrists with glowing skulls
and poured confetti down pores
until they became black holes

I’m American as a school shooting
and I email moonstones to myself
and tag them “wishes” and look up
what something shiny could heal.


Color Theory I

I send my love a spreadsheet of my power colors
and he says, “You should write a poem about it,”
which is probably his way of saying that I’ve slipped
into trying to speak hieroglyphics aloud. That’s all right—

I’ve got my essence color, Blush 7520 C, a pale pink
that harmonizes the colors in my palm. I wear it to feel
vulnerable so probably I should wear it never. But last night
I wrapped myself in it, with a nightgown that was almost

romantic, but off by a few shades. The book said
write down the color you are when you blush.
I looked in the bathroom cabinet for clues
and wrote down “Orgasm.” I found a color swatch

from a beauty blog and it’s always funny to me
that “beauty blogs” are always about makeup
and not other kinds of beauty, like sunsets
or trees or big men holding small dogs.

The book said I could find my dramatic color
by looking at the veins in my wrist. I bleed
cobalt and this is the color to say “look at me.”
My love says, “Do you think color theory is the key?”

I say no but I think everything
might be the key, until I try it.


Abigail Welhouse is the author of Too Many Humans of New York (Bottlecap Press) and Bad Baby (Dancing Girl Press). Her poems have been published in The Toast, Ultraviolet Tribe, and elsewhere. Subscribe to her Secret Poems at