Fear’s Dirty Little Secret


Having suffered a series of calamities

so long and varied as to comprise a statistical impossibility
I cling to the tenuous hope that
surely
my life cannot get worse

then my computer crashes

and I am plunged headlong into a canyon of despair
deep and unfathomable as string theory
landing with an inelegant splat, I am an upended bug
flailing fruitlessly and beset
by larger insects who gnaw greedily on my exposed viscera

there is no point trying to resurrect this heap

rogue elements in my brain disagree
they concoct an army of lively
drum-beating, cymbal clashing, sword wielding
thoughts
cruel thoughts in crimson uniforms, shiny gold buttons
Very sharp
Very military
Very insistent that I obey
that I worry my ass into a perma-pucker
about everything else that can possibly go wrong
when did I last back up?
how many poetic gems did I lose?
how looooong will it take to reconstruct my digital life?

I am no match for the army of thoughts fast colonizing my brain
it’s relentless, aggressive, and on-message
it’s the Fox News of thoughts
and I’m a quivering liberal!
And with every morsel of attention I feed it
the army becomes more muscular
I, more tremulous
if I don’t intervene fast I will be forever lost in the canyonlands
of my own impressionable gray matter

I must write defeat out of my script
I must visualize an alternate scenario so intensely that it feels real
Feels like the kind of relief that can only come
from hearing the immortal words:
Dude, we’ve, like, completely restored your hard drive

And suddenly…I do feel it. The relief I imagined now
bathing my agitated cells with soothing endorphins
fear banished, its army in retreat

but I can still feel the reverberation from their boots
marching in unison
marching in circles
just like they do when they’re inside my head

I feel it, I swear, so they must be real
but only if…

thoughts have mass

Oh baby, I’m dancing solo on the head of my own pin now
and it is sharp

Back in the fifties the government sold us nuclear power
by calling it Atoms for Peace
Are Atoms of Fear equally fallacious?
Are they merely psychic spores, hiding in my amygdala
that tiny part of the limbic brain that tells us
when to fear and when to rage
tiny spores of fear
waiting for me to add water and say: grow

I think my army men are not real
until the moment I animate them
with the breath of belief

all that we manifest in the physical world begins in imagination
thoughts waiting to be made flesh
like my fears
like terrorists in Iraq
like everything else that does not exist until we dream it up

then watch as
thoughts become skyscrapers
skyscrapers become dust

and somewhere, very faint…there’s sniper fire
and we all wonder
is it coming from Fallujah or our amygdala?

By now, of course,
it’s both

 

© Lisa Martinovic


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