Fear Of


What is fear? What is in that vivid gray we steer clear of
but know so well the thought too dangerous to keep?

That which chills sweat before it secretes and this that slams
shut behind whenever tripping halfway through a door

The which way we walk clear of danger does not pass
between that which sneaks through your every window

and this that gains ground every late knock at the door
Between that dis-coordination of limb from limb and this

dislocation of sense from senses—where is that trapdoor drop
at solar plexus and this breathing taking your breath away

all but breeding you out of house and sleep and can muffle
forever your favorite song? What makes your heart flutter so

uncertainly to that which creeps and crawls and this that slithers
and trails without trace under a high-beam moon with no room

squirm free? Stripped of all survival stress down to the fiercest
fear, which fear is most fearsome, which fear has more fear?

Fear of falling or fear of flying, of fire or water, enmity
or intimacy, medicine or of religion, the monster or the media

deja vu or Hannibal Lector—ff-f-f-f-fearing sorry for yourself
lost in space or spotted in a crowd, losing your heard or losing

your grip, that of having done or this of doing yourself in
drifting too far away or way too close to those enclosures

or these encounters, these invasions or those infections
those that bleed or these that hide wounds, these that number

parasites or those that turn poison bad? Skin flutters, the body
shakes between that fear you court like an abused spouse

and this fear reserved here for those you care above self.
Spilling out veins in your eyes in the mirror—a mirror of

which fear is it dilating and constricting all the rest into one
sympathetic nervous system? Fear of the stranger to strike

no other way from a random corner or fear of the corner
clenching his body into a huge fist. Was it the punch you didn’t see

knocking you out of a body swollen so black and blue, dead
in your tracks or the scream you hear, still hear—are always

hearing it chase you through dark still rain without shoes,
an ID or keys? That fear of violent death or this fear of death

as your only savior? W-w-w-where is this fear, where is this
delirium pouring over you hourglass-fast and that fragmentation

streaming out your eyes and ears while it drags you off piecemeal …
as you dream wiggle-less in the hollow of a log filling with ants?

Why oh where oh when did gobbledee goo go gibbledee gag
in every gasp? Way back when the pitter patter of parents' stories

kept on the bedroom lights or when your first scream shocked
you into birth from a life last lived? All fears are fascists

but which of them are protectors, which of them are our
keepers? Which fears must go, so others may stay?

Shock is mind’s way to keep from destroying itself


                                                   --- Chris Custer