Separation Anxiety by Janice Lee


nothing is dying
yes, yes, yes nods the dog
this is directly related to your understanding of the world
listen, when you lash out
I can’t help but scream
arise woven like loud pistils and
I said once
that I just need you to listen
but your listening voice
keeps conjuring
all of my ghosts
I buried that shit
in the garden
used it for compost
it’s just the fear
that keeps calling them back
telepathy resists barriers
but when I let the weeds grow
I forget to let my guard back down


it is becoming more and more precarious
to be an individual
to carry the fear of losing one’s dog
without succumbing completely
to devastation

what I’m working towards
is this:
[image of human body with arms open & outstretched, receiving light)

rather than this:
[image of human body hunched over, clenched & tight, fists closed, white knuckles]

of letting the world work
of accepting the cycles of the universe
(Benny, I don’t know how to let you go)
of knowing we have already lived many lives together
(mama, go now?)
& the universe will know
to see us together again
(attempting the life sustaining posture)
to not crumble & break completely
(mama, it’s ok)
to accept that it’s not all over
just because you are leaving
I must continue loving
when you are gone


an invitation to empathetic seeing
might begin
with the tree
might begin
with the phrase
I suppose
and the density of a forest
might begin at the edges:
blurred, unfocused

one tree falls down
and we all hear it falling
the other trees around it
rattle & shake
are affected by the other tree
are affected

when there is so much green
we might penetrate the picture space
and find ourselves
lost in the shades of green

when the person in front of us is dressed in blue
we might speak for them
in a bout of empathy
and find ourselves lost in the shades of blue
this is the density of color
when one has nowhere
left to go
when their back is to us
we might think
just get a grip man
and then they do
get a grip

still lost in the green
one might think
it all ends where it begins
and yet nothing begins again
the landscape is green and rain
and the body is obscured by the veil of moisture
and the green is obscured
by eyes looking
and the edges blur again as a cow moves slowly
the periphery is unreliable
the cow is unreliable
the spectator is unreliable
the rain is unreliable
empathy is unreliable

I remember the feeling of being alive
I feel something
yet find myself located here
it isn’t so green here
neither am I welcomed by the intimacy of the rain
neither has it ended yet
neither has it begun


About the Author:

Janice Lee is a Korean-American writer, editor, publisher and shamanic healer. She is the author of 3 books of fiction: KEROTAKIS (Dog Horn Press, 2010), Daughter (Jaded Ibis, 2011), Damnation (Penny-Ante Editions, 2013), and 2 books of creative nonfiction: Reconsolidation (Penny-Ante Editions, 2015) and The Sky Isn’t Blue (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2016). She writes about interspecies communication, plants & personhood, the filmic long take, slowness, the apocalypse, architectural spaces, plant & animal medicine, inherited trauma, and the concept of han in Korean culture, and asks the question, how do we hold space open while maintaining intimacy? She is Founder & Executive Editor of Entropy, Co-Publisher at Civil Coping Mechanisms, Co-Founder of The Accomplices LLC, and Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Portland State University. She can be found online at and Twitter/Instagram: @diddioz