Anxiety is a dysfunctional musical ensemble;
My sense of control,
My melodic chorus of
with a winning smile,
to stop your worried questions,
and concerned stares.
Every 5 minutes
I touch each finger to my thumb:
1 2 3 4. 1 2 3 4,
following that same rhythm,
and I can’t change the pace.
I notice the sound of my breathing,
making me cower from human contact.
My heartbeat must sound out of tune.
My mind races in conversations,
There’s a cacophony of secret warnings,
under every phrase I utter.
My speech must sound off-pitch.
Uncertainty crosses your face,
It’s time to flash that fake ass smile again.
“Am I convincing enough for you?”
Is my jaw too tightly clenched?
Is my foot tapping too loud?
Am I sweating too much?
Did you hear my heart skip a beat?
Then the time comes
when my internal questions fade,
my fists open,
revealing the creases in my palms,
and I will release a long sigh.
The music will then slow,
and the controlled illusion will shatter.
Jasmine Gonzalez is from New York City. Writing poetry is how she reclaims the power over
the aspects of her mental health that can spin out of control. Her poetry has been published in
Lehman’s literary magazine, Obscura and in La Libreta for Women in Creative Rebellion.
Before graduating from Lehman College, she completed a senior thesis that focused on
Nuyorican women writers and their impact on the literary world. Currently, she works as a
volunteer editorial assistant for Walking in Other People’s Shoes where she helps elevate the
voices of women of color. Jasmine also works as a part-time Programs Assistant at the
Nuyorican Poets Café. In the future, she hopes to publish more of her own writing to further help
the agenda of giving voices to marginalized writers.