Not Fear

Not fear. Maybe, out there somewhere,
The possibility of fear; the wall
That might tumble down, because it’s for sure
That behind it is the sea.
Not fear. Fear has a countenance;
It’s external, concrete,
Like a rifle, a shot bolt,
A suffering child,
Like the darkness that’s hidden
In every human mouth.
Not fear. Maybe only the brand
Of the offspring of fear.

It’s a narrow, interminable street

all the windows darkened,
A thread spun out from a sticky hand,
Friendly, yes, not a friend.
It’s a nightmare
Of polite ritual wearing a frightwig.
Not fear. Fear is a door slammed in your face.
I’m speaking here of a labyrinth
Of doors already closed, with assumed
Reasons for being, or not being,
For categorizing bad luck
Or good, bread, or an expression
– tenderness and panic and frigidity – for the children
Growing up. And the silence.
And the cities, sparkling, empty.
And the mediocrity, like a hot
Lava, spewed out over
The grain, and the voice, and the idea.

It’s not fear. The real fear hasn’t come yet.
But it will. It’s the doublethink
That believes peace is only another movement.
And I say it with suspicion, at the top of my lungs.
And it’s not fear, no. It’s the certainty
That I’m betting, on a single card,
The whole haystack I’ve piled up,
Straw by straw, for my fellow man.

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Not Fear