A Personal Journey. An occasional series of accounts in the writers and artists own words: Gregory Luce.

From Anxiety Journal—Spring 2015

“The mind is the cause of our distresses
but of it we can build anew.”—William Carlos Williams

I.
Walk: One step at a time,
one breath at a time.
Make yourself notice
the cherry blossom petals
scattering along the sidewalk
and floating in puddles
in the street. Deliberately stop
for a moment to admire
the ancient magnolia,
gnarled and weathered,
still flaunting its
opulent green.
Pay attention to
the House finches trilling
from all directions as you resume
walking looking deeply
into intense blue.

II.
Living with nerve ends
a little too close
to the surface:
They vibrate
like steel strings
strummed with a razorblade.

III.
Saturday a.m. music:
Steel guitar soars,
opens vistas over the plains
expanding out from
the edge of town, riffles
the tall grass in gentle
waves rolling out
to the infinite horizon.

IV.
Sitting on the cushion,
legs rock like a small boat
on a rough sea but the hands
ride smoothly atop.
Return again to the breath

V.
“The narrow, frightening light
Before a sunrise”—George Oppen

Thin lines of ashy yellow
seep through slits in the blinds
when I raise my head
at 4:30, grasping
at snatches of scattered
early birdsong.

VI.
Late spring night in D.C.,
where I wait at a bus stop
on 16th St., shivering
though it isn’t cold.
The peent of a nighthawk
catches my ear. I follow
its flight by the calls,
straining to see
the flash of white
on its underwings.

VII.
Home from work,
find some music,
jangle and discord
of melodic lines
jumping jagged like
an electrocardiogram,
so I stand still
and breathe, then
into the kitchen,
chop onion, grate cheese,
keep breathing
and the music smooths
and slowly soothes.

How to Be a Mad Poet

First, be mad.
Then own it.
Breathe in the anxiety,
use it as fuel.
You might have to lie down
and breathe through the depression.
It’s ok, think of it as recharging.
Be mad at the mad world
that doesn’t want to hold a place for you,
but don’t let its madness make you mad(der).
Put it down, put it all down,
write it all out.
You’re not alone.

-Gregory Luce

is the author of Signs of Small Grace (Pudding House Publications), Drinking Weather (Finishing Line Press), Memory and Desire (Sweatshoppe Publications), Tile (Finishing Line) and Riffs & Improvisations (forthcoming from Kelsay Press). His poems have appeared in numerous print and online journals, and in the anthologies Living in Storms (Eastern Washington University Press), Bigger Than They Appear (Accents Publishing), and Unrequited and Candlesticks and Daggers (ed. Kelly Ann Jacobson). In 2014 he was awarded the Larry Neal Award for adult poetry by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Retired from the National Geographic Society, he lives in Arlington, VA, and works as a volunteer writing tutor/mentor for 826DC. He blogs at https://dctexpoet.wordpress.com.

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