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COUNT DOWN

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Survival is the final offer
that arrives at the eleventh hour
just when pain to the tenth power
would kill you with another ninth degree.

By then, relief strikes you brief as an eighth note;
you wear doom proudly; it's your seventh seal.
But life whispers through your sixth sense
of what might await you in some fifth dimension

where miracle is saved for the fourth quarter.
Tricked, you sigh and rise on the third day.
You know better, but with no second thought,
risk that first step—absurd as first love at first sight—

as if you were back at ground zero, as if it cost
nothing, as if this were not the last laugh.

Source: Poetry

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This poem originally appeared in the May 1999 issue of Poetry magazine

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COUNT DOWN

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  • Journalist, editor, activist, and child actor, Robin Morgan has been a leader in the feminist movement since the 1960s. Morgan co-founded the Women’s Media Center and founded the Sisterhood Is Global Institute. She has lectured widely, written articles for numerous journals and newspapers, and served as editor of Ms. Magazine from 1990 to 1993.

    Morgan’s books of poetry include Monster (1972), Depth Perception: New Poems and a Masque (1994), and A Hot January: Poems 1996–1999. Christine Stenstrom, reviewing Upstairs in the Garden: Poems Selected and New (1991), recognized the “wit and irony of John Donne” in Morgan’s love poems, adding, “As a vindication and celebration of the female experience, these inventive poems successfully wed feminist rhetoric with vivid imagery and sensitivity to the music of language.” Morgan has received a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts for her poetry.

    Morgan is the editor of several influential anthologies, among them Sisterhood Is...

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