September 29, 2014

Panic Wears Me Like an Old Overcoat. {Poem}


Panic showed up again today

I hate the way
he wears
me so well
like that old
too-large overcoat
he conveniently and easily
shrugs on
hurriedly buttoned unevenly
even before I am fully awake

I feel him furtively
almost sheepishly
his arms into the sleeves
as I am rising to the surface
of sleep
wanting just to tread there
a luxurious moment or two

but he’s prepared
already pushing
his anxiety like
cocaine candy to minors
testing it against
all my thoughts
wanting to claim them
as his own

I spend the day
trying to ignore him
knowing he’s a pusher
trying to pretend
I am comfortable
trying to rise
above his constant chatter
his insistence

not trusting him
knowing he will
try and convince me
that there is sane reason
to believe him

to believe that I must
be anxious about everything
in my life
how every thought must be examined
in detail
every nuance
torn apart

left scattered all over
the living room floor
of my mind
never quite fitting back
together comfortably again

there’s always a few spare
parts left over
abandoned there
pushed into dust-bunnied
corners that later worry
their way back to the edges
of my consciousness

testing my ability to trust

especially those things
even myself!
that I trusted
just yesterday

it’s been a while
since panic dared
show his picasso face
around here

with eyes and a gaze
that slide
down and away
to the left
each time
I try and talk to him
reason with him
argue with him

his face contorting

is that…guilt
I see in his eyes?

I’d prayed
he had given up
on me completely
had moved on
to virgin ground

to torture
some initiate
some child
now in the deep end of the pool
with suddenly
no toe touches below

but here he
is again
slinking around
inside my chest
frantic eyes staring out
through my heart chakra
between my gaping buttons
curled around rib bones
feet pushing down
iliac crests
sliding off to
hit greater trochanters
with a jolt
and then quickly scrambling
back up
again to renew his panicked grip

tighter each time

I try talking him down
when ignoring him
does not make him go away
try reasoning with him
try to make eye contact
calm him

think I’ll be
this time
to convince
him to leave me alone
and never return

convince him of greener
panic possible pastures elsewhere

a new bride, perhaps?
someone in the emergency room?

but his fingers only
curl tighter around ribs
my chest constricts with the pain
and I end up forcibly
attempting to unfurl each
finger individually

only to have them pop back
to their grip each time
even tighter

I fall back on my butt
breathing hard with the exertion
and sit and look
at him
clinging there like a scared

sometimes I reach
for compassion
try serving it up
from some deep well within me
offer it to him on my hands’ platter
desperate to placate him
but wanting to be respectful too somehow

but I’ve only served
to make him
wild-eyed and determined now


and I know from experience
that I rather prefer
him sad and pathetic
to this
wild-eyed animal
I’ve backed him into

nothing to do but wait now

sitting shiva again for my own sanity



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Editor: Travis May

Photo: Wiki Commons

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