Acrophobia–poem 14

When FDR declared the nation had only fear to fear,

he never had a gun to his head,


never had a cobra hood opened at his bare legs


or strolled past the body of a jumper from a Manhattan 32 story high rise,


the thump of the fall nearly lifting my feet off the ground.
But it wasn’t then that acrophobia hit.

No, it was the carefree days of carnivals and Ferris wheels,

free from regulations and safety straps, not even for seats

that turned upside down with the slow-turning wheel.

I was five and my car mates were nine and ten, measurably

larger, taller than I so that the metal bar kept them in as

the wheel spun us upside down and then right side up,

me clutching with all my strength to keep myself inside.
Thanatophobia. I had never heard the word in my five years,

but I lived my way through it many times since, perched on a ledge
peering down thirty floors into a postage stamp courtyard,
pondering the weighty sum of a life’s body at its impact against the immovable.

Social Anxiety


At the people’s fair, the poets and priests applauded,

amid moon beams, day flowers and drifting bubbles,

they chanted om-ish dreams in wiling away the hours.

For days on days, the fleet of foot and spare of change

smoked sense into surreal, eating praise and crackers

like Jamesian daisies and a Dapper dangling a cheroot.

There were criers, circus barkers among lap dogs afoot

staring down cookie crumbs, brie chunks on sooty floor.

Festive and feast-ive, the colors and chaos crept edgily,

spun the words from the loudspeaker on love, language,

power, God, emptiness, blunting, alienation and forgive

me if I recollect badly for such forceful good cheer stung

my fear-filled hidden face, feted, feeling the drafty ales

culled by court jesters and juggling clowns reciting lines,

preached poetry and rhyming prayers to a cloying crowd.

And the arms reached me, slung their shawl-like shroud

over me who did not remember how she came here to be

fair of people, puppets, poets, perfume, priests and pot

when then I recalled a choice collected as entry gate fee:

Lithely spin inside the tales of others’ telling or turn tail.  

So, in a booted click-thud pivot, I chanced the lone trail

beyond fenced cloudy star-lit trees blinking cheer-ishly

and down the hill atop which the cacaphony decrescendo

subsided wide for miles stretched into the nomadic night. 



Not a single paper, not a wrapper, stub, shoebox, tag, container, cookie box or article, never intending to wear, she throws nothing away.
No castaways, no delusions, cares, tidbits nor morsels, not a dream, fantasy or truth, nothing gets past the gates of her need.
All she has touched, received, and placed on a shelf or dresser top, even dropped to the floor, never leaves her.
She retains everything.
She lives knee-deep in it, until the inevitable; they come with a shovel, mask and plastic bags to remove the amassment.
The long lone bedsheet melds with the mattress, unchanged so long; once the whole mattress got tossed out.
Not even shed skin may be shaken from her. No, no loss tolerable, nothing must abandon her, nothing left, taken, discarded, out of her control–a sacred keeping.
She shudders and screams in spasmodic yips and soul-shook howls in skin-ripping pain at the disturbance, the violation.
Skull-red circles emanate from angry, forsaken roots.
“Get out!! Nooooo!!! This is MY room! You can’t just come in here and throw my stuff away. I need things you are throwing away! You have no right!! My door was closed!
Oh? Which side of the door shuts out and which closes in?