Ode to the Panic Attacks

There is a rock on top of my left clavicle

underneath the skin.  I don’t know how it got

there but I want it out now my hands wiggle

and can’t hold me up while the yellow bile

hits the kidney shaped pan under my mouth, the

bed is smelly too and

the nurse is crazy I’m

convinced she repeats the same thing to me “stop

throwing up,” she says “stop throwing up like,” that

will do it, two shots and one suppository up

my butt won’t stop my stomach why should the

words of a crazy nurse who wears a name tag but

there’s nothing printed in the space for

her name and

I wonder what friends will visit

me and do my professors miss me stuck in this

old infirmary, old Reader’s Digest laughter is

the best medicine ha ha ha, it doesn’t work and

Sarah comes to see me, she is yelling at me in

her squeal, she says “Nancy you have to tell

them you are under stress psychological and they

will do something about it,”

but I clutch

the pillow she brought for comfort and say “no

they won’t I tried already okay, leave me alone”

and finally she leaves and I say to the doctor

grey hair “you know I think it’s stress” and he

doesn’t do anything like I knew and I spit out

my vomit breath when he is gone

I talk to mumma

on the phone in the hallway from my dirty

emergency sweatpants and she asks me “are

you better, did you stop throwing up?”  Yes but

I’m nuts, help me and she says “I’ll bring you some

ginger ale.”

And I go to my interview to Teach for

America to tell this guy with a snappy attitude how

I would treat a juvenile delinquent with a knife: “I

don’t like knives, put it away,”

“try and make me,” he says,

well okay I don’t know what to do in this

situation maybe I will throw up, maybe I will throw

up on that knife child

maybe like the filmstrip

of the seagulls when the baby pecks the red dot

on the mumma’s beak and the mumma regurgitates her

food and the baby eats it, maybe I will do that maybe

my burden is a unique disciplinary tool

and the guy is wearing a white shirt and a red tie he looks

like a seagull and he says “come back at 3 for the

second part, prepare a teaching lesson,”

and I go

back to my dorm room and think and think and

think my sick pain throbbing my heart beat brain

rhythm depressed like I can teach now, like I can

fake teach for a future career to support myself

so I can get away from my family making my puke

disorder so I call her

I call mumma, she used

to be a teacher and I ask her “what should I teach?”

and she says “tell them to draw a picture called

‘how I am feeling today’” so I do, I get up there

and smile and write it on the board like a freak

how are you feeling today and they tell me SAD


and they ask me

“how are you feeling today?” and I want to say

nauseous okay, I feel nauseous today but I just

say “nervous, now what colors will you use and lines,

what kind of lines and shapes, big or little shapes

be artists now and draw your picture, do it”,


I’m wearing my mother’s green wool teaching suit from

the 50’s and I’m wearing her smile and her voice

and her eyes but I have a rock I have a rock she

doesn’t have on top of my left clavicle because she

passed it down to me, she never told me about it


and they offer me the job, can you believe it?

but I don’t take it, I can’t be a teacher I’m not

ready, I’m too insecure to be a people person but am I

insecure because I’m a woman or because my parents

my mother fucked me up? or maybe it’s that stupid rock

contains vitamins and minerals that have a negative

effect on my bloodstream and psyche

and I drive across

the country with Sarah she screams at me to drive faster

and I cry, I cry holding her hand and I puke again,

I dribble out the window while I’m driving through

South Dakota, it never ends, the stomach acid

never ends and I hit the coast, the western big space

dirty coast

and I’m here now still puking two years

later and my ambition is gone, I don’t want to be

anything anymore: not a teacher not a seagull not

my mother not an artist, I just want to stop puking how’s

that for a career goal I stopped puking fuck you

and the rock falls out.


“Are you a lesbian?” he asked.

“No,” I said, “I’m bisexual but I’m afraid of men.”

“What exactly do you fear?” he asked.

“Their penises,” I said.

and I shrugged my eyebrows up at him

and he unzipped his zipper and

cut his penis off with his toenail

clipper and waved it

pink in front of my face and

I grabbed it and ran

into the sunset and

it fell in the ocean

and washed up on

the Isle of Lesbos

where they hollowed it out

and treated it with indigenous herbs

to make it hard and they used it as a

tampon holder.

The Modern Goddess Myth about Microwaves

Turn on the microwave move the dials it

heats it heats it makes it hot but nobody

knows how she turned on the microwave

whenever she was depressed, even if there

was nothing inside she turned it on and

watched the carousel turning

around and around and around.

Pretty soon a frozen pizza appeared. She

turned it off (beep beep) and released

the vault handle and lifted the pizza

out.  It was heavy and cold hard; she couldn’t

eat it but flung it out the window

instead.  It hit her husband as he was

coming home from work, the alcoholic

husband who beat her then apologized.

It hit him on the head and he was dead.

He died right there; she took his pulse.

He wasn’t pulsing; she cried hot tears

(microwave-able).  She had the funeral

a few days later and started going to

therapy and turned her life around.  She

got happy and when the microwave broke

she sold it at her neighbor’s yard sale.

Her name was Loretta, the Goddess Loretta

and the Microwave: it is a myth, remember

it and refer to it in academic papers

5000 years from now.

The baby

Watch out for the baby

has a soft head and a heavy

padded butt.  She’s gonna wriggle

around in your arms like a bunny

rabbit and she’s gonna make

those urgent sounds.  The baby is

gonna be soft and bewildered and

dependent on you but cute and

the baby is lost, the baby is

found, the baby is bald and clad

in fine wale corduroy and she is

big.  The baby is talking to you

now in your own language: I need

more friends, where is my support

system? I’m aging in my face,

I don’t have the excuse of youth

anymore to justify my lack of life

experience and real soul accomplish

ment like traveling to countries

with big bugs and fucking lots

of people fearlessly and working

obscure factory jobs on drugs.

That is what the baby just said

before she burped and you tried to

find her mother to hold her when

you realized the mother of this

softness, this warm stirring

biological worried little mess

you can carry if you try

hard is you.  Softness.

The baby and the mother is you.

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One thought on Ode to the Panic Attacks

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