Existential Death Anxiety Sestina

by A. Sea Herndon

Existential Death Anxiety Sestina

I feel it coming on again, my god!

That racing primal ancient fear of death.

“Your serotonin’s low, anxiety comorbid with depression.”

I need a smoke, but in my fumbly pocket: Chapstick,

a matchbook, change, and an old cough drop.

Gotta get outside, I need a cigarette.

My sportcoat, from the pack, a cigarette.

Quick outside, I cross myself, and roll my eyes to God.

The winter’s corpse-like kisses make me cough. Drop

it, man! Get your mind off death!

I balm my morbid lips with the Chapstick;

it melts and dies into each cracked depression.

“Is awareness of mortality situational depression?”

I muse and move to light the cigarette.

The wind refuses me. Back to the Chapstick

of my pocket. I seek a light. I seek the Light of God.

Delusional! A crucified god of death

placed on the tongue, his body, a cough drop.

I wheeze into the wind a chesty cough, drop

the match, and watch it blow into a wet depression.

“I am not afraid of you, Death!’

I shout inside my head and light the cigarette.

I close my eyes, ashamed to think of God.

Cold human hands in pockets roll rosaries of car keys and Chapstick.

“This is reality,” I say and roll the Chapstick.

“This too shall pass,” I pray and roll the cough drop.

“I thank you for life, God,

please stop this goddamn anxious depression.”

A noose of smoke swirls from the cigarette.

Reality is that it ends in death.

So what if it ends in death?

Buck up and smile! Put on your Chapstick,

crush out that cigarette,

mask the smoke with a cough drop,

go see the doctor for depression,

and do not lose your faith in God.

Hold death out of sight in your pocket, like a cough drop;

find what crude medicinal Chapstick will salve your depression;

and smoke every cigarette until you die in praise of God.