Coming Down Hard

“The sun had just gone out / and I was walking three miles to get home. / I wanted to die. / I couldn’t think of words and I had no future / and I was coming down hard on everything.” In Linda Gregg’s poem “New York Address,” which appears in her retrospective collection, All of It Singing: New and Selected Poems (Graywolf Press, 2008), the speaker recounts bleak existential angst. Despite the pain and darkness, there are glimmers of light. In the second half of the poem, questions are stubbornly answered with snappy, tidy pacing: “Yes I hate dark. No I love light. Yes I won’t speak. / No I will write.” Write a poem that goes all in on angst, channeling a time that felt overwhelmingly uncertain and full of trepidation. How can you experiment with sound and diction to gently steer the dramatic toward the life-affirming?