“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.



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 .