Sunday, January 5, 2014

Let's Get Real: A Poem About Fear

iphone church steeple


Fear shows up as a
shadow through a crack,
following that worn
tread in my ribs where
the mud has settled,
right at the level of
my heart. She carves her
anguished crop circles
across my hallowed
ground: my wishes and
mercies, my river and
rust, my acres of
dreams and stardust.

She runs her finger
around the rim of my
heart, rejoicing in the
fearful tones...scraping
her church spire against
my skies, worshiping
with her wicked language
in the cathedral of my mind.
She squanders her tragic
fortune in the ruins
of my scars, and I
follow her blindly with
a shame-wrecked smile.

She prays I won't notice
she's tiny as a grain,
she'll break so easily,
she will not meet my eyes,
she's more afraid of me.
All I'm left with is
an aftertaste of doom:
her grandeur in my mouth,
staining my tongue
with its blues.

© Sherri Brannon 2014

You remember too much,
my mother said to me recently. Why hold onto all that? And I said,
Where can I put it down?
~Anne Carson

I am so grateful that poetry is my place to "put it all down", including the ugly stuff. Our truths are not always pretty.

Fears cast a huge shadow. It's easy to get lost inside that shadow and stay there. My own personal fear monster is worrying about the future: anticipatory worry. Fear paralyzes us - it gives us an excuse not to grow. Fear also shames us, which means we often suffer in silence.

This poem I wrote is my imaginative way of expressing what it feels like to be stuck in that head space of fear. I turned fear into a person because its presence can be so strong it almost feels that way. And by the way, if fear were a person, it would have no spine, no soul.

I diminish my fears by writing them down...seeing them on paper allows me to logically break them down and think of solutions that make me feel more prepared. It help takes away their power, and also allows me to realize how ridiculous most of my worries are! Confiding in my husband or a trusted friend also always helps. The worse thing we can do is isolate ourselves with our fears - fear thrives in isolation.

My image was taken with my iphone...a "drive-by" shot as a passenger while driving down Rt. 123. I made it moodier by using the Grunge filters in Snapseed. When I took this photo a couple weeks back, I wasn't even thinking about my poem, but it sure is a perfect fit for it.

How do you cope with your own fears? We all have them...thank you for stopping by.

I must say a word about fear. It is life’s only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unnerving ease. It begins in your mind, always … so you must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don’t, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you. ~Yann Martel, Life of Pi


  1. I love how you bring fear to life through your words. It's something many of us can relate to I'm sure. There was a quote I came across while studying many years ago that was "feel the fear and do it anyway". I don't always live by it but I try to keep that thought in the back of my mind.

  2. The fear in your words are so palpable.. I especially enjoyed reading that second stanza with its stunning connection to that picture.. really almost like a horror movie...

  3. Moodier, indeed... both image and words. You have captured deep emotion and conveyed them on the "page."

  4. You paint fear so well..each line has a purpose and it weaves a great poem...

  5. whew...your personification of fear...her teasing running the finger around your heart...sinister....but yes, that is fear and you captured her very well....

  6. I loved this Ginny--it makes fear palpable and gives it texture and shading--so well crafted!

  7. I can feel your fear in this poem and the photo complements your writing so well.

  8. Very well expressed, we all have them ~ I guess at some point we need to confront those fears and realistically put them away ~ And you chose a perfect moody picture as well ~

  9. although you speak of fear, this was really lovely, the images... beautiful.

  10. This is a remarkable write. I especially love from "she carves her anguished crop circles" to "dreams and stardust". Wowzers! Anyone who has known fear so intimately, is very strong, and a great survivor.

  11. You have definitely given us insight into fear. I do think that it is a good idea to write one's fears in order to make them less powerful. They have to be dealt with somehow; and writing is perhaps one of the better ways. I did like the metaphoric way you wrote & your afterwords.

  12. Fears can be reduced by writing about them. I have always believed that and taught it to my students. The fear character you created is palpable,


  13. I love drive by shooting, I don't get to do it very often as I am the one driving since my husband died. This is marvelous. Love the colors in it and you have brought out the mood of fear.

  14. Powerful poem. I began thinking it was about Earth. Well, guess we are all Earth in our way.

  15. Your poems are always so rich and deep and soulful...and yes fear, it can be paralyzing when we allow it. It also does a good job of numbing us sometimes so that we don't see the real truth...(just today I've been trying to finish something that has a blurb about fear). I think, for me, concentrating on today helps my fear not become a monster...I'm not always successful at this however! Your "drive by" is perfect with this poem.

  16. Fear is a woman for you? I guess it would be a man for me. She invades, attacks you where you're weakest, leaves you feeling depressed. . . I find that if I hide from my past fear has a strong grip on me but when I face my past head on, I own my fear and then it helps me avoid repeating mistakes and thereby keeps me safe.

  17. Love your shot and certainly love the power of your words. Yes, we all do have fears... something that most of us battle day in and day out. Working on being in the present, for me,is the best way of battling fears, but that is , like you said, fear often presents as something nebulous and hard to identify. For me, that is the first and most important part and that is to identify the fear, so that I can look at my reality, and also to face that fear face to face. always love your words Sherri!

  18. Sherri,

    A powerful poem when really caught in the grip of fear. It is all present...But, there is a chink of 'let-up,' and seeing the horizon and a less fraught attitude...


  19. Sherri today you spoke to me int he deepest level. I have been battling some pretty crippling fear lately. "She is more afraid of me" is powerful. Don't let it take over. Release...

  20. A heart having a rim makes the heart sound sunken or hollow...

  21. Oh so well done - I could breathe in the fear. The image is perfect.
    Anna :o]

  22. worshiping with her wicked language - very nice. way to capture the immobilizing effect of fear.