April is National Poetry Month: Share Your Anxiety-Related PoemsIt’s hard to believe that April is here already, isn’t it?

Isn’t time tricky? Surely I was just lamenting the onset of winter and grumbling about how the lack of sunlight contributes to my anxiety.

And in the blink of an eye, our natural word is glowing brighter and brighter each day. Here is Pennsylvania, March came in like a lamb and left like an even softer lamb. You won’t find me complaining.

Nor would you find legendary poet e.e.cummings complaining, either. He’s a famous poet who was smitten with the springtime season: spring is “puddle wonderful,” he claims, in his poem “[in-Just]”.

Remember that cranky English teacher you had in 10th grade? The one who was always correcting your grammar?

Yeah. e.e.cummings is the exact opposite of that English teacher: if you Google a few of his spring-themed poems, you’ll quickly notice how quirky and inventive his syntax is. His whimsical punctuation alone sort of conveys the hypomanic beauty of this season:

spring!may —
everywhere’s here
( with a low high low
and a bird on the bough )
we never we know

-from Poetry, June 1952

April is the perfect time for warmth, aliveness, and poetry. And so, happy National Poetry Month!

Poetry doesn’t need to be elaborate. It doesn’t need to rhyme (and, in my humble opinion, it’s better when it doesn’t!). It doesn’t need to be written in a carefully constructed set of verses. It doesn’t (always) need to be revised or edited. You are free to write anything and everything, arrange in on the page in whichever way pleases you the most, and call it poetry. You are the creative director.

But sometimes, we prefer rules. At least a few of them. Complete freedom is overwhelming, isn’t it? (And that’s the last thing us anxious-types need.)

And that’s why I enjoy haiku and its lovely balance between novelty and predictability, of freedom and structure.

Haiku is a very short and simple style of poetry. The formula is easy to remember: five syllables, then seven syllables, then five syllables. Other than that, there are no restrictions in style or content. Here’s a haiku that I just whipped up on the spot:

Pens scattered atop
my desk: mostly black and blue,
mostly missing caps.

See? It’s easy. If you need inspiration, or if you’re not sure what to write about, see if you can answer any of these questions in haiku format:

  • How does your body feel right now?
  • Where are you right now?
  • What thoughts are stuck in your mind?
  • Can you describe something that’s within arm’s length from you?
  • What kind of posture do you have at the moment?
  • What did you eat earlier today?
  • How do you feel as you’re climbing into bed?
  • How do you feel during panic?
  • What does stress do to your body?
  • How does medication make you feel?
  • What makes you happy?
  • Can you remember the last time you let go of anxiety?

I’ll answer the first question with this on-the-spot haiku:

My cold toes are tucked
in my knee-pits. I sit here,
cross-legged, content.

What do you have to say about anxiety? Can you work it into a haiku (or another style to which you feel drawn)?

Go on — try this! It’s fun, and I’m excited to see what you come up with. Share your anxiety-themed poetry in the comments!

Creative Commons License photo credit: Cat Sidh