Chris Pellizzari, Of Mice and Birds

I started my battle with anxiety and panic attacks when I was a senior in college. I was twenty-one. I was planning to attend law school after graduation, so I enrolled in a speech class during my final semester. I messed up on one speech and soon developed a fear of public speaking. I carried that into the daily grind and pressure cooker that is law school, and what started out as a fear of public speaking, morphed into a general anxiety/panic disorder that had seeped into every aspect of my life.

Here I am seventeen years later, and the anxiety and panic is just as strong as it was when it first entered my life. I handle it better now, of course, but the fear never truly subsides. It’s there in everything I do, every little task, no matter how insignificant.


These pills do not trap and kill anxiety. They stuff the mice back into the walls through holes drilled with teeth. I no longer see them but I hear their scratching lives.

What is anxiety really, my love? Anxiety is a mouse, but you say it’s a large, flightless bird. You say wings that are too small to carry that bird carry me to places I am too heavy to visit. The bird is too pretty to kill, you say. I think you just admire its feathers. They look good on you in this bedroom.

Every migration in this room flies to your nightgown. We went through this last night too, but you scatter déjà vu all over the room, breadcrumbs for her pigeons.

The DNA of a Panic Attack

Each panic attack has her own DNA.

She has a different set of parents.

There are male and female panic attacks.

The female of the species is larger and bites harder when sensing fear.

She believes in a God she calls “mind.”

“Soul” is the universe and “heart” a roof over her head.

Her life expectancy is short, half of mine.

She lures me from my back yard into her inner city apartment.

She speaks five languages, none of which I understand and a few I suspect are now extinct.

She motions to me to change her channel, but I cannot find her remote and there are no buttons on her TV.

I try unplugging it but she is standing on the chord.

She wants me to marry her, but I don’t have the funds.

She wants kids, but I’m impotent.

My impotence turns her on.

She is the world’s oldest virgin.

She only passes on her genes through immaculate conception.

Chris Pellizzari is a poet from Chicago. His work has appeared in numerous literary magazines, including Open: A Journal of Arts and Letters, Eunoia, Softblow, The Lake, and Allegro.


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