I'm reading
How to be alone
Pass it on
Pass it on
I'm reading
How to be alone
Pass it on
Pass it on
I'm reading
How to be alone
Pass it on
Pass it on
16 August 2019

How to be alone

A poem from Pádraig Ó Tuama that explores how a person belongs, and how a person is alone.

Written by Pádraig Ó Tuama

This story originally ran in issue #60 of Dumbo Feather

It all begins with knowing

nothing lasts forever.

So you might as well start packing now.

But, in the meantime,

practice being alive.


There will be a party

where you’ll feel like

nobody’s paying you attention.

And there will be a party

where attention’s all you’ll get.

What you need to do

is know how to talk to


between these parties.




there will be a day,

— a decade —

where you won’t

fit in with your body

even though you’re in

the only body you’re in.


You need to control

your habit of forgetting

to breathe.


Remember when you were younger

and you practiced kissing on your arm?

You were on to something then.

Sometimes harm knows its own healing

comfort its own intelligence.

Kindness too.

It needs no reason.


There is a you

telling you a story of you.

Listen to her.


Where do you feel

anxiety in your body?

The chest? The fist? The dream before waking?

The head that feels like it’s at the top of the swing

or the clutch of gut like falling

& falling & falling and falling

It knows something: you’re dying.

Try to stay alive.


For now, touch yourself.

I’m serious.


Touch your


Take your hand

and place your hand

some place

upon your body.

And listen

to the community of madness


you are.


You are

such an

interesting conversation.


You belong


Pádraig Ó Tuama

Poet and theologian, Pádraig brings interests in language, violence and religion to his work.

Feature image by Elaine Hill

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