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This Quarter’s Panic Attack*

*Revised in Iambic Pentameter

I get panic attacks on occasion, and usually I just ride them out. This summer I was in the middle of a particularly gnarly one, so I decided to try writing something until I calmed down and went to sleep. A few days later, I pulled out my notebook and read what I wrote. My handwriting was really shaky and scrawly and upsetting to look at. The content wasn't much better. I decided to try and rework what I wrote into iambic pentameter. It was surprisingly therapeutic to take my upsetting thoughts and use a familiar framework to try and sort through them with an "objective" eye. To polish that turd of a feeling into something slightly better. I'm glad I did. It's not a happy poem, but it gives me hope, because despite what I initially wrote, nothing is beyond revision. This is what I came up with:


You know it’s real; you know it’s a problem

When the want is no longer a theory

Or a desire to prove an awful point.

You put the word to ink and paper first

And let it dry dark and true as it is

Without the option of revision.

Permanence is a confident virtue

Afforded only to the desperate.

You have to admire it in some small way.

Some things a touch can’t cure; kind words won’t fix

And a loop of loud, indigo music

Can only be a band-aid anyway.

But I know if I scratch off this bug bite

And dig out what is hiding underneath,

It will be nothing more than fleshy blood

And irritation. There’s no nest of eggs

Or any conjuring of the darker mind.

It’s not that rare a bite. Don’t make a fuss.

Calm the fuck down, and drink your sour beer.

Sit in your corner; write your fucking poem.

Pretend this bullshit means a goddamn thing.

You know it’s not real when you continue

To ramble and rattle and never strike.

You lack conviction, courage, and a spine.

Fuck your feelings and your flavorless tears.

Fuck your precious words and the pretty shoes

You’ll never wear; fuck all your shiny waste.

Fuck everything you have and everything

About you, and get drunk and go to sleep

Then wake tomorrow; hate it all again.


But camps were hard to staff this year, and your friend’s grandmother needs caring for. So wait it out three more weeks and see how you feel then.

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