Poem of the Week, by Catalina Ferro

Everyone in my creative writing workshop memorized a poem and recited it last week in class. The only rule was that the poem had to be a minimum of three lines long (think haiku). “Anxiety Group” was one of the many poems, and even though she was nervous and worried that she’d forget some of the lines, the writer who performed it did a great job. The power of the poem, there in the classroom, was such that I went and looked it up to see the original slam poet perform it. Give it a look (link at bottom). “Here we are, all in the lifeboat together.”

Anxiety Group
– Catalina Ferro

There is a German satellite falling to Earth.

She says,
‘What if it hits me?’

Welcome to Anxiety Group.

The kingdom of the sweaty palm and the jiggling leg,
Where the women wrap themselves up tight.
Where the men bite nails till blood.

We are the magnifiers of molehills.
We are the princes of panic,
The ambassadors of anguish.
There is no pride here.

We lack the discipline of the eating disorder group
Lack the self-riotousness of bereavement group
And we’re not as fun as procrastinators anonymous.

Nobody wants to be here.
Me? I don’t sleep.
Can’t sleep.
I make insomnia look professional,
Make your tossing and turning look like afternoon hiccups.
The longest I’ve gone is nine days,
Went literally insane.
Sleep deprivation is a form of torture, you know,
And I do this to myself.

Melatonin makes me sad,
Benadryl is for amateurs,
Hypnotics turn off the lights too quickly,
And weed makes me crazy.

Diazepam, Lorazepam, Bromazepram, Alprazolam,
Klonopin is the only thing that works.
And they’re weaning me off it,
So, like a baby forced to remove breast from mouth, take bottle instead,
I got sent to anxiety group.
And apparently, we’re all going to die,
Because while the girl to my left worries that the satellite will hit her,
The woman to my right worries that it will hit a nuclear power plant,
And then,
We’re all fucked.

My father says only rich people go to therapy,
Poor people got shit to do.
And yet, here I am,
In this lifeboat
Surrounded by eight of the most beautiful, crazy ass motherfuckers the word has ever seen.

‘What if it’s not just a mole?’
‘What if it’s a flesh-eating virus?’
‘What if I fail at life?’
‘But what if it really is the rapture this time?’
‘What if they hit us again?
‘What if I wake one morning to see planes scraping skies again?’
‘What if it’s me this time?’

And I think ‘Wow.
It must be exhausting to want to live this much.’
Fuck the depressives,
Fuck the body-image meditation group,
Fuck sex addicts anonymous.

Give me your tired,
Your poor,
Your anxious,
Your huddles masses yearning to breathe deeply and count to ten.
Give me this collection of blurted confessions,
Of psychosomatic itch,
Of twitch and tick,
Of stutter and sweat,
Give me these weak kneed,
Jumpy-ass, too much saliva, break out in hives, awkward stomach, hair falling out,
Chewing lips, restless leg, pounding heart bastards
Any day of the week

These people who fight through every day
Like fucking gladiators,
Who fight demons worse than you and I could dream of,
Just because they want so badly to live
To hold on
To love
Because you can’t be this afraid of losing everything
If you don’t love everything first
Because you have to have
a soul-crushing hope
That things will get better
To be this afraid of missing it.


To watch Catalina Ferro perform “Anxiety Group,” please click here.


My blog: alisonmcghee.com/blog

My Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Alison-McGhee/119862491361265?ref=ts

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