“I’ll Show You Fear In A Stackfull….”


I’ll show you fear in a
stackfull of fresh-pressed clothes

I know it will not truly jump
across the floor, that I won’t bump
into it when three feet away–almost every day
I use it virtually–
wrinkles raising a very different fear–
imagine my mother here–bending
over the board, sighing willfully
that I–no one–could–
like she did–
a trip–slam, slip–everything perfectly
flattened before packed
like some
old idea
of the planet, even a flounced skirt
pressed into a rectangular
Western state–I really
from across the

I own
my own now–and don’t
bother with board – on my couch, bed, rug–trying not
to be ruffled by
shudder–I know its burn
won’t bite
independently, but worry, in my rushed flush, I just
might press the clothes I am actually wearing, scorching an
imprint like that birthmark on my left thigh that
looks like the map of some far


Here’s a draft poem of sorts for a wonderful prompt hosted by Stu McPherson for dVerse Poets Pub on fear and phobia.  I am afraid that almost everything I write has some root in fear, so I focused on phobia.  In this case, of irons (ha!), and I really do not hook it onto my mother, but I figure this made for a better story.   For a deeper fear poem, see my “Englyn” on thoughts of death.  

And check out dVerse for wonderful poetry.  And if you have time, check out my books!  Poetry, GOING ON SOMEWHERE, (by Karin Gustafson, illustrated by Diana Barco). 1 Mississippi -counting book for lovers of rivers, light and pachyderms, or Nose Dive, a very fun novel that is perfect for a pool or beachside escape. Nose Dive is available on Kindle for just 99 cents!

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31 Comments on ““I’ll Show You Fear In A Stackfull….””

  1. hedgewitch Says:

    Torn between sympathetic shudders (I share your distrust of burning hot irons and other machinery)and giggles–perhaps those stress kind, but this cracked me up genuinely:
    even a flounced skirt
    pressed into a rectangular
    Western state
    What I press looks more like a topographical diorama of the Rockies(hence blue jeans.) I like the scattery way this kind of skitters, too, like those beads of water you’re supposed to test the surface with to see if it’s hot. Lots of fun internal rhyme–the flushed rush–and trim slip slap onomatopoeia, too. The end image is…impressive…?(I did mean that in a good way.)

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      I am reading all the wonderful fear poets and feel like I went a little on the silly side, but not quite silly enough! Oh well. I can’t quite deal with deep fear at the moment–k.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      PS – of course this was my mom pressing! Not me. She was very good at it.

      Actually a lot of poems there – the right way to do a shirt. k.

  2. Yikes for the hot iron leaving a birthmark ~ And I do like the ending – crannied continent ~

    I am learning to put dashes in my post, seeing how effectively you used it 🙂

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks! It’s really a trick from Dickinson – the thing is that I want to force pauses in reading- but certainly not at the end of lines, and sometimes commas aren’t actually required or are even confusing. So I’m using them more, though I often worry that if I were better at punctuation they would not be necessary! k.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      ps – I don’t actually have iron birthmark! Just mean a fear of it. k.

  3. Mary Says:

    I like the dashes too. I think I will try to use them more, in place of commas. I enjoyed this poem on fear of a burn by an iron. I own an iron, but can’t remember the last time I used it. I avoid the clothes I have that need ironing…sad, but true. The phrase I enjoyed the most was:

    even a flounced skirt
    pressed into a rectangular
    Western state–I really
    can–from across the

    Have a good weekend.

  4. brian miller Says:

    ha. i am not good with an iron…i will do it on occassion, but i am always afraid i will burn the clothes or not do it right…dang new job has me back in slacks so i am having to become reacquainted….lol…smiling at the map on your leg as well….nicely done k….have a wonderful rest of your weekend..

  5. kkkkaty Says:

    Very clever…I had forgotten this fear of hot irons – of being burned – I have a birthmark on my back that looks like a map of California…ha..so love your reference;_)

  6. Sabio Lantz Says:

    I never knew anyone had this fear. Learn something everyday — and here, we great humor — thanx.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks, Sabio. It didn’t really come out exactly the way I wanted. There’s an element of phobias for me that is fear of self–at least in my case–of doing something wacky. But maybe will consider in other poem. K.

  7. smiles…after miri came back from bolivia she said we iron way too much over here…so we reduced it quite a bit..and i never will iron like my mom and i will never be able to make the beds like my mom..isn’t it funny..? greetings from california…i’m SO VERY tired but everything went well…so…happy…smiles

  8. love that you don’t bother with the board! have to admit i’ve never heard of a fear of irons. {smile}

  9. David King Says:

    Lovely! Oh, I really go for this. Superb. Thanks for.

  10. Sounds like most fears a reasonable caution – they can burn badly – stretched a bit too large. And who irons now on a proper board in the ironing corner! A jumper hides shirt creases and the train journey ruined the morning creased trousers!

  11. Laurie Kolp Says:

    I hate to iron, too… have not been burned, just don’t like it.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      I actually kind of like it. I haven’t been actually burned. I have an obsession that I might get burned but I still do it a fair amount. Maybe I’d be better off hanging clothes more carefully. (ha!)

  12. Myrna Says:

    When I was a child, I disobeyed my grandmother and while she was out of the room, I played with the iron. I burned my hand. It made a huge welt. Learned a lesson, I guess, but gladly the experience didn’t cause a phobia. Just a deep dislike of ironing.

    Wish everything was wrinkle free.

  13. Ironing just scares me anyway…. But yes, fear can manifest in even the most every day items, evoking memories and shudders from years long gone.

  14. Glenn Buttkus Says:

    Some of us, myself included, wrote really dark foreboding fear poems. It was great to dive into the land of manic silliness, pointing out that fears come in all guises; liked this piece a lot.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks, Glenn. Yes, I figured people would go dark, and, of course, I have my own dark places, but just didn’t want to write of them somehow, as they made me too sad. When you get to a certain age, you are pretty clear that at least some of your fears will come to pass! k.

  15. Now that’s a first! I never heard of a Iron phobia before. When I was 10-12, my mom took in ironing to make extra money. To feed me, no doubt, as I consumed groceries to the tune of twice my weight ( I was one of those skinny kids who could never seem to get enough to eat). Anyway, I tried to help out, and would do some of it for her while she was at her real job. I got pretty good at it, too!
    I enjoyed the poem, k!

  16. poemsofhateandhope Says:

    A phobia of irons! would you believe I actually do know someone who tied to iron a pair of trousers whilst they were wearing them…silly…very silly….loving the flow and the natural hooks and rhymes in this Karin….’i know its burn won’t bite BUT’- you get in here the irrationality (sometimes of fear) and that knowing this often help!….this is great stuff

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Ha! Thanks, Stu. I think the phobia – and I really do iron all the time – is knowing what one COULD do – the sense of that odd power and the worry about one’s irrational or pre-occupied impulses. Oh well. Thanks much. k.

  17. janehewey Says:

    at breakfast in the Residence Inn Marriott this weekend, my seven year old son asked, “why do we have a surf board in our closet?” it took everyone by surprise, including his 86 year old grandmother, who was first to burst into hysterics laughing that this boy had never seen an ironing board before. Every Saturday as a young teen, I ironed my dad’s handkerchiefs. I loved every second of it, however, I still only iron things that are square. (i have iron and no board :)) thank you for the memory inspiring poem, k.

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