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  • Hridya Chaudhary

I’m not lying. He’s not lying either. Our Numbered Days in Our Numbered Days by Neil Hilborn review.

I’ve come to a realization that artists are very selfish people. Especially writers. They go on and on and on about different tangents, forget intersecting the tangents, they don’t care if they’re even in the vicinity of each other. How do they literally. never. stop. talking. about. themselves.? 

Let’s count the number of times I’ve lied today. #1. I lied to my mom about having money, #2 I lied about not having a universal TV remote (I do have one. Hit me up.), and #3 I lied to my boss about being almost done with this article. So here I am Friday 12:02am with an energy drink in one hand, snacks in the other, trying to string my thoughts on my favourite thing in the whole wide world - poetry. 

Neil Hilborn is a slam poet from Houston, Texas. He is known worldwide for his viral poem called “OCD”. Hilborn has three published books - Clatter (2015), Our Numbered Days (2015), and The Future (2018). He reads his work in colleges & various other places. He is mainly associated with Button Poetry on YouTube. He’s also a co-founder of Thistle, a Macalester literary magazine. 

I spend what seems like half of my day on public transport and I’ve been reading Our Numbered Days on my way to everywhere. If you saw me crying on the bus, shhhh. My usual bus stop has a lot of acorns just lying there for a reason I never tried to find out. Maybe it’s just the tree nearby or maybe it’s the universe carefully placing things for me to reflect upon because, you know, I am the most important human of them all. None of us progress if I don’t progress. Anyway, the minute I stepped on the first acorn, the entire Ice Age movie flashed in front of my eyes & it all made sense to me. That’s Our Numbered Days. The minute you pick it up and read the first poem out loud, your entire life will flash in front of your eyes & your sadness will start making sense to you. 

Our Numbered Days has 6 poems titled the same, a hexagon of glass if you will. #1 is about the spaces between life, death, and heaven. Hilborn mourns over a relationship with his mother which is not over yet, but will be soon. He mourns over a thing that has ceased to exist partially. The ending is when he hits you the most. “I will slouch on my knees as though in prayer, I will write one or two poems, then I will no longer think of her.” I am secretly mad at Hilborn for writing this. How dare tell me I will forget my mother when she dies. How dare he punch me in the face with this inevitability. How dare he tell me I ‘won’t cry when my mother dies’. 

Now, #2 is about absent fathers. “I have seen my father perhaps ten times, and while that is almost certainly an exaggeration it tells the truth of my story:” vs. I have perhaps talked to my father ten times, and that isn’t almost certainly an exaggeration. 

I remember being in Grade 10 trying to perform Sierra DeMulder’s Today Means Amen in front of my whole school. I panicked & forgot all lines after the first two. My best friend at that time rushed to sneakily hand me my journal so that I could be successful in making everyone feel an ounce of the same thing that I felt while reading the said poem. Older generations often go after Gen Z and our social media habits but fail to realize that, to be known is to be loved. To be seen is to be loved. Hilborn goes on about the love of his life in #3, about how “she likes hazelnut in her coffee” and how “her favourite colour is Bakelite seafoam green”, and about how ‘she loved him once’. I don’t mind hazelnut in my coffee, my favourite colour is pink on my good days, hot pink on my bad days, and I am always in love. Repeat after me: to be known by myself is to be loved. To be seen by myself is to be loved. 

TW. Hilborn talks about death / dying / death / killing himself / death a lot in his poems. The last Our Numbered Days of his book is a beautiful last lost part of the series in which he talks about hope. As it should be. He says “hope drinks with me and against me” which I feel is a perfect way of describing how hope is related to luck in some ways and one flip of the coin and you’re either on the good side of luck and hope or the bad side of luck and hope. He does spoil a perfectly optimistic poem by adding “dear god, I can’t stop sleeping.” 

It’s 3am now, I’m going to read Our Numbered Days to my crush and make him fall in love with me. Sorry mom, sorry dad. Sorry boss. Sorry about the god complex & for talking about myself all this while. Peace out. 

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