Avoid snakes religiously. That apple a day—a banana instead?
Pack a deck of cards. The Cherubim is a fiend for solitaire.
Hoist two flags: Stars and Stripes, Confederate. What the hell.
Pascal’s wager on belief in God? (Three out of four, you win.) Hedge your bet: believe.
Light a candle. Say a prayer. Toss salt over your left shoulder.
Place sugar cubes in your pockets for those pale horses parading past. Couldn’t hurt to get on their good side.
If you spy moon-eyed, slow-mo marchers slide your way, stiff-armed like sleepwalkers, don’t shake their hands, don’t offer them candy. They are not trick-or-treaters.
Draft contingency plans. Perhaps reincarnation, as a cockroach or tardigrade.
When you hear the chorus sing, hold your applause until the end.
Should you feel your body rising, yes—do go into the light. You’ll be eternally grateful.
If not, better luck next time.
Vernita Hall is the author of Where William Walked: Poems About Philadelphia and Its People of Color, winner of the Willow Books Grand Prize and of the Robert Creeley Prize from Marsh Hawk Press; and The Hitchhiking Robot Learns About Philadelphians, winner of the Moonstone Press Chapbook Contest. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Poetry, American Poetry Review, African American Review, Barrow Street, The Common, River Styx, The Hopkins Review, Arts & Letters, and Obsidian. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Rosemont College and serves on the poetry review board of Philadelphia Stories.