Posts Tagged ‘fear’

A Fearful Heart


Worry comes in like a fruit fly—
slips through the tiniest crack,
a crack I didn’t even know was there—
or it comes in the front door
with something I love—
and soon, worry is everywhere,
laying its eggs in all that would ripen.
Almost instantly, worry multiplies.
Of course, worry would have red eyes.
Worry doesn’t much care the season.
Winter is as good as spring.
And it circles me, buzzes me,
annoys and undoes me,
resists my attempts to be rid of it.
Invites me to learn to live with it.
I never notice when it is gone,
only when it’s here again.

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The day
from wing
to wing,
a bright
and feathered
a path
in wordless
to tag

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Not by writing another poem
about how much you miss them.
No matter how many red-wing blackbirds
you put in it, the poem itself won’t trill.
No matter how many elephants
clomp through the stanzas,
the poem won’t make the earth tremble.
No matter your skill with language
even the ripest metaphoric blood oranges
cannot quench a very real thirst.
Pick up the phone. Press the button.
Call the one you miss.

I know, I skipped the hours
where you worry about how much time
has passed, how every silent day
becomes another thick brick
in a taciturn wall between you.
Perhaps you’ve started to believe it’s impassable.
But a call is like a wrecking ball.
One sincere hello knocks down even a thousand
days of separation with just two syllables.

What happens next will only happen next
if you clear a space for reunion,
if you pick up the phone.

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Mus Musculis

Today fear is a mouse
that scuttles between thoughts
and feeds on whatever it finds—
nibbles on my certainties,
gnaws the coating off my circuitries,
and pulls the stuffing
out of each moment.
Those are its droppings
in the hallways
of my mind.
I thought it was worse
when fear was a tiger,
a badger, a wolverine,
but the mouse of fear
finds its way into everything,
makes nests inside my minutes,
discovers passages into my inner walls,
then scratches against them at night.
It never goes near the traps I’ve set,
no, it scampers around them,
its soft feet pattering,
its small dark eyes
noting everywhere I go.

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One Irrational Fear

inside this trembling woman
her own shadow
wildly distorted, flexing

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Meeting This Moment

There was that night when the cats were frightened

because they saw a feral butterscotch cat outside the door—

and for days they yowled and shrieked at each other

out of fear of what they didn’t understand,

intimidated by what they didn’t know how to fight.

So they fought each other.

Displaced aggression, said the vet,

and she encouraged us to give them space.

Today, when the news is full of butterscotch cats

that come to my door, I understand the instinct

to wail, to caterwaul. I understand the impulse

to fight with someone, anyone, to raise my voice,

to find my claws, to hiss and arch and attack

in an effort to discharge this aggression that pumps in me

churns like a river in flood stage, filled with debris and mud.

And that is when some inner voice,

a voice so quiet it’s almost impossible to hear,

suggests, “Singing is still an option.”

Suggests, “Can you shine in this moment?”

Suggests, “If you choose to speak only love,

if you choose to give space,

how might that change the only thing

you are able to change?”

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Why I Smile at Strangers

In difficult times, carry something beautiful in your heart.


–Blaise Pascal

And so today, I walk the streets

with vermillion maple leaves inside me,

and the deep purple of late-blooming larkspur

and the lilting praise of meadowlark.

I carry with me thin creeks with clear water

and the three-quarters moon

and the spice-warm scent of nasturtiums.

And honey in the sunlight.

And words from Neruda and

slow melodies by Erik Satie.

It is easy sometimes to believe

that everything is wrong.

That people are cruel and the world

destroyed and the end of it all

imminent. But there is yet goodness

beyond imagining—the creamy

white flesh of ripe pears

and the velvety purr of a cat in my lap

and the white smear of milky way—

I carry these things in my heart,

more certain than ever that one way

to counteract evil is to ceaselessly honor what’s good

and share it, share it until

we break the choke hold of fear

and at least for a few linked moments,  

we believe completely in beauty,

growing beauty, yes, beauty.

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            with thanks to Rebecca Mullen

but what if I can’t do enough

I said, and love said

what if you don’t try?

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So In I Go

And if I felt into that dark ache

in my gut, would it cover me

with its stench? Would it stick

to me like tar, like muck, like pitch?

Would it suck me in like quicksand

so that the more I tried to save myself,

the deeper in I would sink?

And if I waved from its depths,

who would save me?

And if I don’t meet it at all,

what if I don’t meet it at all?

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Hello, Fear

How does she do it? She hitches a ride on the blow, a stowaway on that which brings her down.

            —Teddy Macker, “The Mosquito Among the Raindrops”

There I was, making tea in my kitchen,

when fear hit me like a school bus.

I didn’t need a scientist or therapist

to tell me it hurt.

I screamed: Arghh! I shouted: No!

But after smashing into me,  

fear just opened the folding glass door

of the bus, yanked me on,

then plopped me into a green vinyl seat.

I’m scared, I said.

Yeah, fear said. ’Cause I’m scary.

Yeah, I squealed, as the bus careened

through the couch, through

my bedroom, through the splintering

dining room table.

What if I lose everything? I said to fear.

Yeah, said fear, what if you do?

And who will I be when everything changes?

Yeah, said fear, who will you be?

Then he opened the door

and shoved me off the bus

and I was standing again beside

the familiar green counter,

tea cup in hand, not a drop spilled.

Who will you be? he shouted

from the half open window.

I took a deep breath,

not knowing how to answer.

Good, fear said, as if uncertainty were a gift.

And who, fear said, as the bus peeled away,

who are you now? Who are you, really?

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