FEEL FEAR

“That guy doesn’t have any fear.”

My longtime friend Jeff used to say

about me often in front me, near

a machine built for speed in a parking lot,

bar, party, around a fire or wherever

old stories get rekindled – as if I wasn’t

there. I can’t explain why

some are drawn to the edge, to live fast

near places most avoid. Velocity, Adrenaline,

Testosterone held together in youth

make a delicious cocktail some call

 

“Wild.” Hunter Thompson once said,

“The Edge… there is no honest way

to explain it because the only people

who really know where it is are the ones

who have gone over.” I don’t recall

how many times having to pause

 

for Blue lights to hear words like:

do you know how fast… you can’t,

shouldn’t, that’s illegal, catch you

next time – see you in court. Coming back

a few occasions under Red lights

hearing: how many fingers, can you feel…

you could’ve, should’ve, cannot believe

you didn’t – you must have an angel.

 

Fear can be turned and projected

like a shield. Sometimes you can smell it

on an opponent as they go

down. Tuck it behind a name

badge to stand in serious corners

of a club where others escape

under dancing lights, loud music

and strong drinks. Feel it

on a head shaved to support a friend,

swimming with chemo, during a time

of skinhead uprising. Heard daily as most

turned to avoid and occasionally tasted

as some returned to scream assumed hate

I left them uniformed to keep

their pride in confronting stupidity.

 

As time etches glass. Slamming Wild

mellows into sipping Perspective.

 

Love holds fear. A blend

could walk in front of getting another

pet, close an open hand, freeze

a mind, lose pieces of a broken

 

heart. In our place where it is better

to be feared than afraid, I am tired

of paying for what others stole.

Tired of being feared for what others

have done. I get to shoulder

a fear that comes in the form

of an unearned invisible decrepit sign

created by monsters. The word [Beware]

written with body fluids of others.

It can be seen by unknown women

who go out of their way to avoid

sharing a sidewalk. Heard in the stressed

air near a vacant seat. Noticed

by a child taught to stay away

from the lone-strange-man.

 

Perception does shift

when my spotted dog walks me

through awakening blooms, falling

leaves and assorted flavors of rain.

And it disappears when surrounded

by my daughter’s wiggly girls. Seems

I now have a few angels.

 

There are many edges to the dark

force labeled Fear.

Feel them.

Or don’t.

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Time for New Tradition

Some holidays feel like tombstones on the calendar

These days smell like dusty dishes, broken flowers and tired pictures

Flashbacks seem bright – some not

Numbers that don’t count

Hands unheld

Candles boxed

Food not cooked

Time for a New Tradition

 

 

 

THOUGH I WASN’T ALWAYS

Why do I keep trying to understand

the list of many things that I do

 

not? I carry around a fifty-

one-year-old weathered scroll

 

inked with a variety of unknowns.

Some, once understood—now

 

not. Many new, others ever-

changing. The list

 

grows. If “life is what happens when you are making

other plans,” why plan?

 

Why do traits that attract

turn into reasons to leave?

 

Is life alone settling,

fate, or just giving up

 

on the game? Why use the word

forever when nothing is?

 

How can a lifestyle choice threaten

others? How is walking in rain

 

therapy to some, yet loathed by many?

How do crows know I am

 

a friend, though I wasn’t always?

How does a special animal change

 

a person’s life? What do you do

when they go? Why do tough

 

people sometimes betray the code

and cry? Why do some become monsters

 

instead of protecting

their children? Can the kindness

 

of an outsider make enough

difference? Why does the pain remain

 

when the damage is long

gone? How do butterflies

 

know to show up when you need

them? If writing can be an antidote

 

for depression, can it lead

to understanding? Is philosophy

 

a gift, or an over-thought

burden? Destiny, obligation

 

calling (words that are larger

than life) can you really

 

see them coming?

Herman Hesse wrote:

 

I have been and still am a seeker,

but I have ceased to question

stars and books; I have begun

to listen to the teaching my blood

whispers to me.

 

Was there an event that opened

his eyes to this

 

realization or is it the wisdom

of a tired traveler?

 

When is it okay to let go

of questions and simply embrace?

 

The surprises never

end. Perhaps it’d be healthier to lean

 

back: let the bad be curses

and the good, magic.

 

This poem started with my piece Why from the “Write to Understand” writing workshop taught by friend Matt Love  on December 10th 2016 in Astoria, Oregon and evolved over time thanks to the help from another writer friend of mine Tara Hardy .