I’m Afraid

this morning

the little things scared me

i remembered

i’m afraid

of the dark and

dirt under my fingernails

stepping on thumbtacks

and the windows of my car getting stuck

in the down position

or the up position

i remembered that i’m afraid of rats and

cheese aged over 100 days


microwave rays

i’m afraid of potatoes

because i see

a similarity

between them and me:  i have too many eyes

work in disguise

have felt the earthy rot

from within

i fear i’m too noisy

and then {i fear} I’m leading too quiet a life and

i’m afraid

of that man

who enters daily

through my eyes

{he could leap out of bed and never return}

i’m afraid of dying

in an absurd place

near a tobacco stand or

on a street corner where

old people linger.

i’ve a fear of drowning

being held upside down

under water, tangled in seaweed

and ocean.  i’m afraid

of dawn’s outstretched arms

and the morning which screams

a promise between overlapping teeth

I’m afraid that

“Chicken Little” was right

{and the sky is falling}

i’m afraid no one will keep

the door open for me and

i’m afraid of being alone on the other side of the door.

i’m afraid of standing

beside buildings, so tall

not because they might fall

on me, but because cigarette smoke

and hate

drift upward

choke the sky

i’m afraid of the way my heart dangles carefree

on a string

and i’m afraid

that if you look in my eyes

you might see some ancient madness there

i’m afraid of being wrongly accused

afraid that i haven’t suffered nearly enough

but mostly i’m afraid of

my right hand, the way it guides me.  It is

much older than i, comes down gray as

an eyeball

is godless

and without it

i am not here, never was.

My mother once told me

that i should

never tell anyone

what scares me the most

that they would surely

use it against me

so if you ask me

if i am afraid,

i will deny everything.

Truly, I am afraid of posting something that is pretty controversial. I am afraid that I will lose subscribers. I am going to do it on 3/13. But I’m really scared. Tell me what you are scared of.

74 thoughts on “I’m Afraid

  1. I love this post.

    It is raw and real and what I hope to see here, because your raw and real relatable and lovely.

    I am afraid of not chosen alone.

    (I’ll be here, by your side, 3/13.)

    1. Agree and second all of what Georgette said. (Galit, too, and almost certainly virtually everyone else who’s commented now or will later.) The “publish” button is one of my fears. So is becoming my dad. Most the time, I couldn’t be further from him, but sometimes what feels like little reflections of him surface and it is terrifying.

      You’ll not lose this subscriber. And whomever you do lose? It mightn’t seem a loss at all, in the end. I lost a few with my “gay love” post, but then gained many more whose hearts were more closely aligned with my own.

    2. Georgette & Deb: Thank you. For your support. I have long written every day, but often said: “Not everything needs to go out into the world.” This one…I have wanted to go out for a long time. But I’ve been scared.

      I hope you’ll both be here to hold my cyber-hand.

  2. Renée, you are one of the bravest people I’ve ever met. For what it’s worth, I’ll always follow you.

    I’m afraid that I won’t have people like you in my life, to encourage me when I’m afraid and to stand next to me when I stumble.

    1. Thank you, Christian. This is hard. Maybe I’m building things up too much in my head, but it feels big.

      To me.

      I will always be here for you.

      As long as I my hand works and you keep that email address, I know where to find you.

  3. We all have fears and when we are asked – as you have – we deny. It’s because our society seeks out weaknesses (and fear) and whips it into a frenzy and creates even more fear and frenzy – just look at gas prices and the presidential election – how we expext to find a reasonable leader from that process is beyond me – but, I’m off topic. But, my biggest fear is that I won’t have the time for all of the fun things I want to do because what I have to do (which is not fun) takes up far more time! Great poem, great thoughts – we all have ’em.

    1. Oy. Please don’t get me started on politics. It’s actually not completely off topic as you will see. Because aren’t we taught we aren’t supposed to talk about religion and politics?

      Yeah, so those.

      Thanks for your support, Clay.

  4. Renee, my secret confession is that I rarely (unfortunately) read poetry. And I love this. Love it. I find it to be beautiful and haunting. It is so recognizable and universal even though, I’m sure, it’s deeply personal. I’m inspired. Truly. Thank you.


    1. Amy! Thank you so much for reading. I find that sometimes poetry strips away all the little words and helps me say what I need to say in a more raw way. I was a poet long before I was an essayist. I have thousands of poems locked into this computer.

      I’m glad you read this one and that it inspired you.

      Incidentally, I loved your post today and put it on my wall RASJacobson’s “Lessons From Teachers and Twits” on Facebook! <3

    1. Ray, that is the most kind comment I think I have ever received. You read it three times. *Gah* I am humbled. Thank you. And aren’t we all afraid we don’t measure up? Isn’t there always someone who sparkles more brightly? Le sigh.

  5. I enjoyed your poem. It was very good. Don’t be afraid to post. Who am I to say such a thing? I am afraid of being alone and yet I have social anxiety disorder and am afraid of crowds. I’m afraid my daughter will desert me. I’m afraid mostly of being misunderstood.

    1. I am so happy when you show up. It’s like you just know when I need you. I hope you’ll come back on 3/13. I’m scared.

      For real.

      I’ve built up a following, and I have some things to say will likely alienate a large portion of my followers. So I may be deserted and left alone on 3/14. We’ll see. Maybe I’m making too big of a deal of this.

  6. I was a little afraid that my post today would be too controversial. But I’ve never gotten anywhere by giving in to fear. So here’s to you, doing what you need to do, being yourself, pushing back against fear. xo

    1. You have taught me a bit about not being afraid.

      But I have kept quiet about a lot of topics because.

      Because a lot of my followers MIGHT not like the subject matter.

      I think it’s time to step it up.

      Look. We made it through, right? 😉

  7. I will follow you over the cliff, Renzay, if only to ensure you have company before I haul you back up.

    I love this poem. May I use it with my students? We’re not going to hack it and butcher it; that’s not how I “teach” poetry.

    I am afraid of illness in those I love. Of being fraudulent. Of hurting those I love most. That I wont measure up.

    1. Shirtsleeves:

      We will always haul each other up. (Or as our students might say… “hall each other up.”)

      Of course you may use my poem. You can do with it as you see fit. But if one kid so much as doodles on my poem, I’ll get on the next plane and…

      make sure to give you lots of love. Because you know that’s all we really need. And gosh darn it. We are good enough. And smart enough. And people like us. (Right?) 😉

    2. This. Oh, I’m afraid of all of these things. Especially lately. Wow. How do you two DO this, creep into my brain and pull out the stuff I don’t even allow mySELF to see?


    1. David, I will be interested to see what you say on 3/13. You know I said some things the other day on your bloggie. My honest truth. I wouldn’t expect less of you. I will likely not comment on that day and just let people say what they need to say.

      But I will be reading.

      So I hope you will say something.

      So I’ll know you are still there. And that I’m still part of your Tribe. IYKWIM.

  8. Great poem.. I always thought that. That if I told anyone what I was afraid of they would use it against me. I didn’t think that would ever happen, so I told people my fears. And wouldn’t you know… they did try to use them against me.
    So now I keep my fears in.
    I will be here on 3/13, Renee.

    1. Darlene: See. That it, precisely. This was me warming up to it. I had to admit some things here. Little things. Before I get to the big things that I need to say. Because I have so many posts stacked up. And I haven’t been brave enough to push PUBLISH.

      So yes, I’m funny and hot (let’s not forget hot), but I’m serious, too. I’ve been afraid of controversy. Which is weird because I’m not afraid of being controversial in real life.

      Thanks for coming over to offer support!

  9. You have been very brave in everything you have posted so far. I don’t think I could ever be that open and personal in a public forum. I really admire that. I look forward to reading your blog on 3/13. If it is really controversial, I may or may not agree with it, but I will ALWAYS support your right to say it!

    1. Thank you, sweet cousin. You have always been supportive to me. I know you won’t ditch me. Plus you have to see me in June. So… 😉

      But for real. I’m nervous. I may lose a lot of readers over this post.

      But as Deb said, there will be lovely new ones to take their place.

      I suppose.

      But I hate losing people, so it’s scary.

  10. Beautiful and honest! We are all scared of something, real or imagined. I’m afraid of being a bad mom, scared my boyfriend will leave me some day, afraid of heights and scared of being scared. Whatever it is that you have to say on 3/13, you will be held up by many loved ones and fans. Anyone who walks away wasn’t meant for you anyway. Authenticity will ultimately provide you rewards beyond measure.

  11. I can’t imagine not being here on 3/14. I know I will be here for you.

    The words you say are thoughtful and real and I am certain that anything you choose to share, no matter how controversial, will be something you believe.

    And worth giving my consideration even if I do not agree.
    You will certainly never earn my scorn or lose my support by being honest.

    So do not be afraid.
    You are already braver than you know.

  12. Beautifully written poem, Renee. Very honest and heartfelt and one I and others surely can identify with…this feels silly to say but my Big Fear is to be on the other side of this life and not remember the prior life at all!
    What’s that about?

    The honesty is the important thing, so bring it on, and don’t worry about the results.

  13. My biggest fear is that the people in this country, this world, will continue to lose respect for one another, and that it will never turn around. I worry about the children that witness these angry grown-ups.

    Your cartoon on Facebook says it all~ See what I mean… 50 years later and the behavior is much worse.

    Speak your mind; I’m sure your post will be fine. If folks can’t take it, well, aren’t we all suppose to be able to respectfully speak our mind?

    1. Thanks for your vote of faith, Carol.

      i love that cartoon. I wish I knew where it came from, so I could quote the source. My father-in-law keeps sending me these fabulous things. But you are right. I agree that behavior is sliding…spiraling. We have let our children run our lives. And our schools.

      But my post is scarier than any of that.

      For me.

      You’ll see.

    1. Oh Lizzy. I hope so. I’m scared I’m going to lose an entire faction of my audience.

      Maybe I’m making a mountain out of a molehill.

      But I’ve been sitting on this piece for too long.

      And it was truly a #LessonLearned for me.

      I hope that people will get that part.

  14. This, my dear, is beautiful.

    As for me? I’m afraid of a lot of things. Spoiled milk and mold and crooked picture frames. And on a deeper level, I’m afraid of turning into my father and driving away the people I love the most. I don’t ever want to be alone.

    Whatever it is you have to say on the 13th, I’ll be here to read. And on the 14th, I’ll still be here to read. Your words are important.

    1. Bobbi:

      Thank you. I believe you understand about fears. And I need the picture frames to be straight too. And the pillow to be fluffed. And the beds to made made. And the dishes to be in the dishwasher every night before I go to bed. I don’t know why, I just do.

      Your support means the world.

      See you on WWF — where you are crushing my head. 😉

  15. This post has danced around my mind and wrapped itself around my heart. I love the courage it expresses just by stating what you are afraid of. So, with that inspiration…
    I’m afraid of failure.
    I’m afraid of success.(Once you get it, you’ve got to maintain it–right? 🙂 )
    I’m afraid of heights.
    I’m afraid of getting to the end of my life with more “Maybe tomorrow-s” on my bucket list than check marks.
    I’m afraid of letting the people I love down.
    But, I’m not afraid of looking at my fears anymore.
    Thanks, Renee–and for what it’s worth, I don’t care how controversial your upcoming post may be–you won’t lose me! (I’m kind of stalkerish in that way.)

    1. Thank you so much for your support. I am pretty sure this will not be anything that will shake, rattle or roll your world. But I have top be true to myself. I have to be able to write stories and not worry about alienating people. And I have been.


      So no more worries.

      It will all shake out the way it’s supposed to.

      And thanks for visiting me here.

  16. How beautiful and honest. I am also learning to write my most intimate thoughts in the blogging community. Whatever it is, I am looking forward to reading and supporting you 3/13.

  17. I had an epidural on Friday February 17th at Woman’s College Hospital. Yes, I’m a guy. They specialize in epidurals at Woman’s College, no other hospital does them as well. Gotta tell you I felt really funny walking in the door with an appointment.

    What am I scared off? Doing something. Anything. Since I’ve had the epidural the pain has been mostly gone. It was mostly gone for two months last summer, after I had the last round of epidurals. And then I overstressed my body, and the pain came back.

    I’m scared to pick up my puppy. I really shouldn’t pick up the cats. I have a ten point weight limit. Do you know how limiting that is?

    Never mind the icy sidewalk. Sheesh.


    1. Oh Wayne. I know how uncomfortable you have been. For so long now. Hopefully the cats will come to rest near you. And I’m guessing your pooch will come and lick your fingers. But right now, no lifting. I hope the rest of your OB/GYN appointment went well.

      Zing! (Did you see what I did there?)

      I hope you didn’t hurt yourself laughing. That would be bad. 😉

  18. This post is so raw and amazing, Renée. It’s hard to reconcile your fearless personality with your confession of fear. But course, deep down we call carry them don’t we?

    My fear? I’m afraid that I’ve moved half way around the world so that my husband can push the reset button on his (untreated) depression and start to feel better again. But secretly, I’m very afraid it will take more than that…

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