When Asked To Write Of What Scares Me


When Asked To Write About What Scares Me

I will make no surmise
of what terrorizes; crack no chink
for the unthinkable; damn it all up
but good.

Even prayers, for now, err
on the side of the generic, taking care
to wear camo as you do, my dear.


Draft poem for the incomparable Mama Zen’s prompt on With Real Toads to write about what scares you (out the window and in fifty words or less).  This isn’t really out the window and the picture doesn’t exactly fit the poem, but I like the picture, and I am a bit too scared of what scares me to write about it (though I thought it a great prompt.)   I’ve rewritten a couple of times since posting!  

I’m sorry that I’ve been a bit slow returning comments of late.  A terribly busy time.  I will get back to anyone I’ve missed.  

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24 Comments on “When Asked To Write Of What Scares Me”

  1. K, what a fascinating prompt, and these images are crisp. Love what you did.Hope you are settling in well.

  2. Sabio Lantz Says:

    @ Manic:
    I embarrassingly overlooked the 50-word limit and inadvertently broke that rule of the prompt when I wrote my poem. I am glad to see I wasn’t alone. Though less that 50 words, you didn’t write about a window view, nor write anything scary. (BTW, the prompt wasn’t “to write about what scares you” but “to write about what you see, but make it scary!”)

    But instead, you use this opportunity to tell us about your camouflage: your intentional hiddenness; your protective stance. Or did I misunderstand?

    Your ‘camo’ seems to be a mechanism that has served you very well. You seem to share it in a poem perhaps so others, who may do the same, don’t feel alone.

    Perhaps you are just using the prompt as a vehicle to tell us that “I am a bit too scared of what scares me to write about it”. I am no psychiatrist and a very poor solver of riddles. But that was my take on this exercise in your post here. My strength and my weakness is that I am not afraid to make a fool of myself. I’m not afraid to take a chance and expose myself — so I guess here.

    Thanks for letting me think out loud.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Hi Sabio, I just changed the poem a little since you read, but probably not in ways that would make it respond to your notes. I tend to view prompts as jumping off points. My goal is to write a poem not answer a prompt! Hopefully, the poem will be something that I like and may use or publish in some other context. It is fun to follow prompts to get ideas and also to connect with others, but for me – and I hope I don’t irritate prompters – but that’s my view – we are not in a game or a school where the rules are so very strict. The word limits can be a useful exercise, in tightening, but if someone exceeds but makes a poem they like, great! (Though I do think it is sometimes good to confine one’s self.) In terms of subject matter, it’s certainly true that my poem was absolutely prompted by MZ’s note. I wrote it in direct response; I would not have written it otherwise. I feel like that’s enough to qualify to link up. Certainly, if the real toads people feel differently, they can take down my link. My own view is that there are plenty of rules in life though, and part of the fun of poetry is that shapes one can find in them. k.

      • Sabio Lantz Says:

        Ah, interesting — to date, I’ve always tried to answer a prompt. But I misread often. It’d be anthropologically interesting to hear other folks prompt-ethics! 🙂 I thought your spin was accidental, but now I see your approach– thanx.

        But that aside, ’twas a curious camo effect.

      • ManicDdaily Says:

        The original camo, which I’ve changed a bit, has to do with having a close relative in uniform right now in Afghanistan. k.

      • ManicDdaily Says:

        But Brian has it—it’s about not wanting to even give a thought channel (even here in prayer) for negative fates to rush in upon. Superstition? I suppose is one word though it’s a bit stronger than that. k.

      • Sabio Lantz Says:

        Ah, now with hints, the fear of a loved one being injured or killed in war — and not even knowing where to begin with it.

        Much clearer now. Perhaps others got it before me.

      • ManicDdaily Says:

        I changed it back to original form, after changing again.

        I do not know about the prompt ethics of others! I really do think of prompts as spring boards, though I try to stay within formal constraints requested – i.e. length or poetic form – as I think that is a useful exercise. But for me the point is just to write your poem. k.

      • Sabio Lantz Says:

        Keep writing and writing — a noble ethical stance!

  3. brian miller Says:

    ha our avoidance of it shows all the more the power of what scares us….that we will not even give utterance to it in prayer…the things we hide, or hide from…

  4. jinksy Says:

    crack no chink
    for the unthinkable

    What good advice!

  5. Sheila Says:

    I sometimes avoid speaking aloud those things that terrify me…”knock on wood” kind of moments. Loving the internal rhyme and alliteration in this – my favorite poetic techniques!

  6. I really like the way you handled the wording of your poem, especially the internal rhyme of the first stanza. The tone of the second was a little more light-hearted.

  7. Mama Zen Says:

    “Even prayers, for now, err
    on the side of the generic”

    That really resonates with me. Outstanding.

  8. L Says:

    A dexterously crafted image of personal vulnerability.

  9. I feel the same way about prayers sometimes…great write, I think.

  10. Margaret Says:

    That whole second stanza is quite telling…. I imagine this read in a quiet, prayer-like voice.

  11. hedgewitch Says:

    Yes, writing it down, saying it out loud, even forming coherent thoughts about it is as scary as the thing we fear, the idea of giving it shape and life in words or the kernels of us behind them. giving it a corner of our minds to inhabit–ugh–I also like the lines MZ quoted.

  12. Sherry Marr Says:

    I love this poem, such crisp language: “crack no chink for the unthinkable”. Really good work!

  13. Kay Davies Says:

    I love the subtle rhymes here, mid-line and mid-word, but deliberate, I am sure. Very well done! I’m always delighted when a poet goes with what flows, instead of adhering rigorously to a “rule” or even a prompt. If we kill what flows, what then remains?

  14. Truly a witty statement in verse K, wonderful rise and fall feel. I pray for you– hope you don’t mind! 🙂

  15. This is amazing. Congratulations. Can you send me the rewritten version(s)?

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