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  • Anxious Poets Society

Anxious Song in a Narrow Valley

I am evaded by sleep like a stalking lion.

Grasping at oiled reeds for purchase here, but the effort must be worth it.

There must be some of it in prescription papers; liberate the mind to catch it. Find a door with sand beyond it, up to knees and naked on it.

Tell me there’s more in foil dots because I’ve waded, and wading in groups isn’t better, only gets hotter. Here in Canberra it’s called ‘meeting place’ but it’s the space between two holy mountains. Nganbra truest: the sacred convergence and it’s closer here, getting tighter and less


less light in here.

Arrest my chatter in the bones of the bones of the bones of the bones.

(How do you like my third arm, flailing, dumb? They call it ‘high-functioning anxiety’, this noxious partner, cruel foe.)

Find an island.

Success and survival are the same. Luck, luck and a general apathy towards moaning. Hope to

never be a Jewish kvetcher. Here’s a dictation: when you’re here, there is a sense of hunkering down. Isolation. Breathless around you, callous misery.

Let’s draw building blocks to aid you at a wider nib, broader take on things: ‘It’s been a while!’ I say, whilst a hug whispers neglect.

(You’ve been manning checkpoints in my psyche, far, far away - I don’t want to use you.) Nothing about this hyper-personal approach will tell you the truth.

You. Don’t. Know. Her. This is graceless poetry. It and Them and They, just like Here.

(Rationalise, says Elaine, sitting in the high-backed chair.)

Write to cope, not to hide passion. All fire. Be straightforward. There’s no narrative here. Just a slow, upward spiral.

Excuses slide out like an assembly line, measure for measure, words in a specific order, unsaid louder in the head. Not an echo but a resounding terrorist of thought-pile. A chasing sin, unworthy sacrifice, and I have told you

you’re not

worth writing for, so stop trying to be my muse.

There’s nothing about the cleavage of words that entices me finer than moonbeams on toast. Eggs a little runny. Saturday mornings away from your cold, hyperventilated embrace. There’s nothing about the perfect eyes-meet pause that reminds me more of home. You are a failure and maker. I Frankenstein you to death when you undo me. I litter with my anger. I want you desperately outside of me. I can’t think of anything, no, nothing that makes me sicker.

When you are ready, I have arranged your shoes quietly at the door.

* * *

What is the source of the bud that gives life to this thing? It is clear as ever that I am not fighting life, but fear and death.

Life is a busy exercise, and here I make me care. Life is not the enemy, but I am.


Benjamin Ezzes is a Jewish educator and young professional from Sydney, Australia. In between managing his university degree, anxiety and fits of baking, he enjoys confessional poetry and public speaking.

#sleep #liberate #holy #bones

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