In the Middle of an Anxiety Attack, Don Henley Tells Me to Take It Easy
By Lauren Gordon

Don’t let the sound
of your own wheels
drive you crazy

when panic mantles
your heart’s gallop,
don’t let the sound

surge torso to toe.
Fear is designed to
drive you crazy;

a circuit of heat
and haunt.
Don’t let the sound

of angst jab itself
into the void- it will
drive you crazy.

Your own wheels
guttling highway-
don’t let the sound
drive you crazy.

Lauren Gordon Writes: I feel the need to preface the explanation of this invented form by letting the reader know that I am not an Eagles fan, which might slightly alter the lens in which the poem is read. I was listening to the radio in my car while driving home in some stressful traffic, and the song came on right as I could feel the beginning symptoms of a panic attack. The humor of the situation is what propelled me to write the poem later. I chose to create a pseudo villanelle, and since villanelles were traditionally written as ballads, I thought it would be a good fit. They don’t have the same jackhammering of repetition that a pantoum does, but a repetition that is more constant – sort of like how I imagine Don Henley’s trucker must listen to the sound of the road (and how earwormy that song is). I also thought the metaphor of “your own wheels” as a stand in for mental illness to be apt. This quasi villanelle still sticks with the 19 lines, tercets, and penultimate quatrain. The first and third line are repeated in the correct order, but not in rhyme. I also included the second line (“your own wheels”) in the last stanza because it was too good to not, and some part of me has always hated how the second line in villanelles gets abandoned.

Lauren Gordon is a contributing editor to Radius.