ear is a dreadful topic. Even for an author who occasionally dips her pen in the inky genre pool of Horror and Suspense. And yet it seems almost kismet that I should delve headfirst into the theme like a high-diver plummeting to a barrel of bubble bath, make that bubble-gum bath, for it is a gooey matter most personal.

I am seeking to craft a life raft of words that will assist those like myself who have grappled with some fear or another in the past, at present, or who may in the future need solace from a ticklish moment of trepidation; a surprise party of paralysis; a whole bucketload of tremblish toe-tangling Terror with a capital T.

Are ya still with me, or ducking below a convenient piece of furniture? In the closet? Behind a tree? This isn’t a game of Hide-And-Seek. Come out, come out, wherever you are!

Some of us were born anxious, but that doesn’t mean we can’t overcome our fears. And who isn’t slightly paranoid these days? You’d have to be nuts not to be!

Whether we admit it or not, we are all afraid now and again to whatever degree. Else there must be some particle amiss — some particular molecular hair gone astray. We are not being honest. Or we lack common sense. Perhaps our Fear Factor gear fell off . . . our Fight-Or-Flight mechanism flew the coop . . . our Panic Button short-circuited.

Perhaps, I hypothesize, our Peril Para-Meter was removed by mistake during surgery like an errant extra ingrown elbow! (Feel free to stop me at any time.)

Perhaps the thing we fear most is so abjectly frightening that we simply can’t confront our fears. Except in a funhouse mirror. And then we tend to shriek and scurry through a maze that isn’t much fun after all. We run away. Or we freeze where we stand like an icicle from the ground up.

What I’m trying to say, as ridiculously as possible, is that we react to our fears the way we’ve been programmed and conditioned to — with stretched-thin piano-wire nerves, a bass-drum-beaten heart — experiencing what we expect to experience.

No, no, that isn’t what I was trying to say. Where did that come from?

What I’m really endeavoring to say (ignore the above), is that Fear is nothing to be afraid of. In fact, it’s usually very silly so we should laugh at it. Ha ha ha! In falsetto for effect. We are often afraid for no logical reason — of a mere shadow, a needless worry, an imagined embarrassment. Sure, there are genuine things in the universe to inspire true dread. But not to live in fear of, because then we do not really live, we just die minute by minute like a half-empty glass. Or a half-full hourglass trickling with inevitable gravity toward the downside.

Yes, that sounds about right.

Not that I know what I’m talking about or anything. You’d think I would, being anxious most of my life, but I don’t. Not a bit.

Of course, that doesn’t prevent me from writing poems on the subject! Oh no, I write poems without any license whatsoever. With as little authority and consciousness as I can cram into each verse. That’s my style and I’m stickin’ to it! After all, it hasn’t worked for me quite well this far. And I am, if nothing else, a creature of habit. As are most of us fraidy-cat scaredy-kins! Or so I’ve heard. I could be wrong. I could be barking, or rather meowing, up the wrong tree. I like to do that sometimes. Especially when there’s a full moon. I can’t explain it. But I digress. I’d better get busy writing poems before I forget what I was talking about in the first place . . .

the root of all fear

What say you in such daunted pose

With an apprehensive flare of nose?

Where has your courage fled this day?

What horrid gust blew it all away?

Do you dare to tell or must you quiver

In the silent lull between each shiver

Where the whispered woes fall on deafened ears

And we fail to speak of our worst fears?


What can you say when your tongue is knotted

Your skin so jaundiced and whitely spotted

Your lily livered, your heart pit-pattered

The sheen of sweat on your brow ill-spattered

And you wish to screech in wordless affright

Of that which keeps you up at night?

When will you utter the mutters unspoken

That would slay the demons with a game-board token?


Have you nothing to say of your secret dread?

Will you never share the inside of your head?

Why won’t you answer my earnest pleas

Though you clutch my hand and quake your knees?

I am tired of questions, of this clueless riddle

Either tell me now, at least spill a little

I cannot defend from a threat unknown

Speak your truth or else you may stand alone . . .


I’m still here, don’t distress, I was only teasin’

But tell me quick your frothy reason

Let me understand what makes you afraid

Is it so beyond every rope end frayed

That you cannot think of the words to describe

This terrible essence, the ice-veined vibe

That claims your breath and robs your valor

And leaves you in such clammy pallor?


I shall find the longest shovel around

To dig and dig until I have found

The bottom of this rigid reaction

The plumbest depth of terrifaction

From there I shall yank and tug and wrench

The dirty cause up from that trench

To rid you of your taut constriction

You’ll thank me with the clearest diction


The root of all fear is nothing to fret

It runs abstruse, subliminal, yet

Like battling a monster I shall haul it out

From each fiber of being I’ll rip and rout

In the end you will see how exorbitantly foolish

You’ve been to be so timid and droolish

Worrying too much is a damaging curse

So cheer up now, things could always be worse!


We hold at bay our deepest fears

Grown like mushrooms in the moist dark

Of attics and cellars where once we

Dwelt alone inside


We know full well ancient memes and foibles

Have no power upon us, still

We know this to the bottoms of our souls

But cannot convince the heart


A ling’rous crescendo of risen panic

Accompanies its strings as they are strummed

Tightened too far until they snap

With a reverbent whine of sorrow


Who’s afraid of the big, the bad?

Whether snarling beast or grinning lamb

There are cosmic ripples that would us guide

If we only could anticipate


New torments acquired

The strifes and strickens of a harried life

Are no less troubling, no easier to brush

Off like a shrugged regret


Yet the brittle leaves of long-gone seasons

Scrape the pavement of the steadfast mind

We can’t seem to clear the cobwebs from

The rafters, the crevices, or the past


Such thoughts are best to disregard

And let the wounds close up a spell

I’m not afraid of the big bad wolf

I’d just like to forget him awhile


Dreads combined or one by one

Are just as poignant, keenly felt

Some things won’t settle or ebb like the sea

All we can do is stay afloat.


Goodness gracious, I’ve simply come unglued

Smile crooked, thoughts coagulated, my lips bright-blued

Where has this panic risen from?

What phobic aerobic fiend beats the drum?

These doldrums encase me like silk-woven fears

I’m worm-sewn and spiderwebbed, soggy with tears

How can I escape from my own devices?

I’ve laid the trap, now I’m caught in a crisis

A cycle of terror, a loop of despair

That makes me tremor and pull my hair

I’m sweating and skittish, deliriously fraught

Uncertain of escaping from where I’ve been caught

It’s not even real yet it’s hard to break free

The net is Anxiety, the captor is me


There’s no greater enemy than the inner elf

Whose misgivings force you to doubt yourself

Don’t listen, don’t heed, pay that imp no mind

You’re stronger than you know, I am sure you will find

As for me, I am struggling to listen as well

To the voice of Reassurance and emerge from this cell

I’m aware of my weakness, I can see the light

As I crawl from the darkness of timorous blight

Anxiety-shmiety, I’m better than you!

Trepidation be gone, my alarm is through!

I won’t cower in a corner, won’t cringe at my health

I won’t let my worry sneak up with such stealth

I know in my heart that it’s crazy to shrink

In fear of a fear that is only a think.


We are born too frail and needy

In the end we die as greedy

In the middle, with luck, we gain some sense

And a measure of confidence


Should you lack bravado, the nerve to dare

It’s never too late to claim your share

Chin up, stand tall, think positive

Take that step you’ve been dreading and live


Seize the day or the bull but avoid his horns

Cast aside your doubts and drab forlorns

Every day is a new chance to spread your wings

And emerge from the glum, give your cares the flings


All around you lies Hope in the glimmer of Dawn

It is yours for the taking, don’t shirk it or pawn

The gifts you are given, the good from the bad

It is your choice to be either happy or sad


Whether broken or whole, you can face what you must

With confident strides and a backpack of trust

On your odyssey have courage that each step is true

And one day you will see that it came from in you.


While I am as flexible as the next

There are some vital tenets to obey

If you bear them in mind at least most of the time

Then you should be okay

Don’t stand in front of a moving bus

Don’t give your heart too easily

Don’t taunt a stampeding rhino

Or open the door unless you see

Who it might be

A friend or foe

Or somebody strange

But then again, you never know

Do not steal a berry from a bear

Don’t mug or make faces at a cop

Don’t fly unless you’re a bird or bug

When the light turns red, don’t forget to stop!

Never cross the street without three peeks

Never act high-wire without a net

Never slurp your tea or soup in public

Never moan or groan or gripe or fret

Neither share your curds nor whey with a spider

Never trust a clown, turn your back to a snake

Never stop believing in yourself

Never cuss or fuss, for goodness sake!

Once done reciting your “Don’ts And Nevers”

Be sure to add a few more rules

We can never have enough not to do

Or we might end up as fools.


Any one may lurk

In the shade of the day

Or the shadow of night

Any thing could creep or crawl

Forth from the nether

That swallows the light


It is here that we separate

Fact from flimflam

Truth from Fiction

Here in ourselves we trust

To shudder yet forge on amidst

The tingled etch of suspicion


In these shadows that purvey

The sheer will to survive

Resilience by grim encounter

We are never far astray

From the meek and mild

Who shriek or flounder


Yet venture forth we do

Else be lost within our hearts

And lose our grip on pride

Here is where we choose

Whether it is wisdom

To conquer fear or hide


We are nothing without nerve

To face unknowns

Stay our ground

It is up to us to cope

And unfalt’rously resist

These shadows that abound.


I’ve been the victim of Insidiousness

That wriggles from nowhere when you least expect

With startle-eyed speed, it feasts from within

Munching on fortitude, backbone and grit

I can feel the gap-toothed gape-jawed bite

Of my inner-ear dizzying monstrous fright

When it’s here I can’t do much else but languish

Obsess in excess, embracing my anguish

Transfixed and immured by its torturous thrall

Gripped in its clutches, wrapped in its pall

Entranced, mesmerized, unable to blink

It slyly possesses in the space of a wink

So quick to pounce with clever snatch

But the perfidious Insidious has met its match

For I’ve learned new tricks and am wiser by far

I’ve stopped keeping my courage in a cookie jar

I won’t let it win, I won’t let it prevail

I’ve developed the patience of a tenacious snail

I’ll outdistance that slitherent menace soon

And stay far away from the nasty goon

My days ahead will brighter be

Once I’m rid of insidious Anxiety.


Some days my downs seem up

My ups turn upside down

My smiles will droop and sag

When I’m merry I may frown

I can ache from laughter

Take cheer from sobs

I might step on my toe

Yet my finger throbs

Nothing goes right

And it makes me mad

But sometimes my mettle

Is ironclad

It’s those days that brace me

For the opposite kind

They remind me that worry

Is a state of mind

That it’s up to us

How to think and feel

And not every threat

Is something real

When we go around

Like a washing machine

Through the stages and cycles

Of the same routine

Those off-days I strive

To change my view

The ups and downs

Are nothing new

But I can be different

Can agitate less

For staying calm

Will vanquish the stress.

~ Published ~
September 9, 2010

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