Anxiety & Panic Disorders

From Anxiety Journal—Spring 2015

By Gregory Luce

Living with nerve ends
a little too close  
to the surface:
They vibrate
like steel strings
strummed with a razorblade.

Relief: Tumble a tiny half moon
from a trembling plastic bottle,
roll it between finger
and thumb, take a deep
breath. It leaves
a faint bitter aftertaste
even when swallowed whole,
but soon enough sweet
anodyne flows like
warm water smooth
over softening soil.

Evening of the last day of April, warm breeze, fragrance of lingering blossoms. I make my way gingerly down the sidewalk, taking the damp air in slow, even breaths. When I reach the bus stop I look up.

a flight of swifts just
at dusk their high thin music
a thin reed to grasp

Mother’s Day four years after: Sunny café Sunday, mothers all around. I think of mine, gone now four years. She passed on the 118th anniversary of Walt Whitman’s death.

catbird sings at dusk
broken song flutters into
my memory’s ear




Gregory Luce is a neurodivergent poet living in Arlington, VA, where he writes when not riding his bike, birdwatching, or teaching writing at Writopia Lab. He is the author of four chapbooks: Signs of Small Grace(Pudding House Publications), Drinking Weather (Finishing Line Press), Memory and Desire (Sweatshoppe Publications), and Tile (Finishing Line Press), has published widely in print and online. He is the 2014 Larry Neal Award winner for adult poetry, given by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and serves as Literary Editor of Bourgeon and Board Chair of Day Eight, a DC-based non-profit supporting the arts and artists. He is recently retired from National Geographic, having completed a 32-year career there.


For more information about anxiety disorders, please visit NIMH and also check out the category here on Pre-existing Poems. We’ve only been up for a few days, and about half of all the poems I’ve received have related to anxiety or depression. Statistically, 18% of adults in the US have an anxiety disorder, and it is the most common mental illness in the country. Read more stats about anxiety over at ADAA.

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