A few days ago, in honor of National Poetry Month, I asked for your anxiety-related haiku.
I love haiku as an art form for describing anxiety. While many of us might think of “anxiety” as a huge and heavy long-term predicament — and, for some of us, it truly is — even the largest and darkest mountains of anxiety are built from smaller bricks of haiku-sized worries.
Now, I may be mixing my metaphors (bricks don’t make up mountains!) in that last paragraph, but oh well. Poetry is about what feels right. And for a concept as complex and nebulous as anxiety, a mixed metaphor feels strangely appropriate: anxiety doesn’t cleanly fit into any given metaphor. It’s always changing.
So, let the metaphor change along with it. Even within the same sentence. To hell with that “don’t mix metaphors!” rule that I learned in 11th grade.
There’s only one rule we’re following here on Panic About Anxiety for National Poetry Month — we’re writing haiku. A haiku is a short & simple poem that’s written 5-7-5 — five syllables in the first line, 7 syllables in the middle, and 5 syllables in the last line.
That’s it. The rest is up to you.
You’ve given me some beautiful haiku throughout the past few days. Here’s a sampling of my faves:
Swallow me up world
for living already does.
Why postpone today?
I am still biting.
My nails and the skin around.
I hope they don’t bleed.
Ahhh, will it be read?
I just shared my very deepest
will anyone care?
Gosh, I don’t think I…
Is it going to be good?
I doubt this is right…
like a freight train with no brakes
-Kelly, from Facebook
Sick of the thoughts that
fill my head with graffiti
polluting my mind
-Bob, from Facebook
And finally, another on-the-spot haiku that I wrote yesterday on Twitter:
My heart is skipping
beats again & beating me
Writing about my anxieties helps me to tuck them away. After I wrote the above, I hit “submit” on Twitter, walked away from my laptop, forgot about my palpitating heart, and whipped up some lasagna in my kitchen. True story.
If you’re on Twitter and you want to share your own original haiku with the world, you may want to tweet it with the hashtag #tmmpoetry. Each April, NPR’s Tell Me More solicits original haiku from listeners all across the US and then asks the best of the best to read their haiku on the air as part of their “Muses & Metaphor” series. Simply tweet your haiku with the #tmmpoetry hashtag in order to be considered.
Be confident in yourself — they picked me last year and featured my poem about the (admittedly light-hearted) anxiety of not being able to scratch an itch on the bottom of your foot when you’re wearing sneakers. (I can’t even tell you how fast my heart was racing when I got a call from NPR’s Washington DC headquarters!)
It would be great to see a Panic About Anxiety reader get on the air this year with a mental health-related poem — provided that the experience doesn’t cause you to panic!
If national radio isn’t your thing, then I welcome you to keep commenting on this blog with your anxiety, panic, and stress-related haiku throughout the entire month of April.