Fear of Failing (Dread Aftermath)

20151127-094831-35311199.jpgFear of Failing (Dread Aftermath)

Exposure of your inadequacy
is like that hand you don’t want
diddling you;
it has pushed itself down your pants
or up–
you can smell the grimed lines
of the thick-stumped digits; your face

somehow, it is all
your fault–maybe you allowed
your arms to fall asleep
so they could be rolled, logs,
then cinched
behind your back–

Logs joined in the child’s set you
keep picturing
start a foundation, corner
a little brown house-
but you don’t see how your arms, so skewed,
could build anything
that might stand.


Draftish poem for Fireblossom‘s (Shay Simmons) prompt on With Real Toads to write about dread, this, about the exposure of failure. 


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19 Comments on “Fear of Failing (Dread Aftermath)”

  1. Whoa! I really felt this poem, the discomfort, the burning. Love the closing lines.

  2. Jim Says:

    Wow !! A surprise !! Your first verse really go to me. (Of it depends on who the diddler might be, and the setting?).
    Mrs. Jim and I have both fallen and broken things. First part of the aftermath is a feeling of just wanting to lay there, “you good-bodies who are trying to help me, please go away.”
    The log cabin is literal? A part of rehab therapy? I enjoy rehab, every time, it’s like going to club.

  3. Marian Says:

    Oh good lord this is some serious dread. Brings up the same bellyache for me that parts of your novel brought up.

  4. Kerry O'Connor Says:

    This is a terrifying metaphor… very effective in conveying the dread of failure and a whole lot of other fears.

  5. We are so often our worst judges, and I wonder how many masterpieces that are hidden in drawers, such a great way of describing that dread…

  6. Candy Says:

    this is powerful and thought provoking

  7. coalblack Says:

    A perfect depiction of dread, and one of your best, in my opinion, even though it makes me feel the ick of recognition. Low Self Esteem People Unite! Or…no. It’s probably a bad idea. Never mind…

  8. Helen Dehner Says:

    It took years for me to manage (somewhat) that fear of failing ~~ this is a stark reminder of I how felt way too often …. beautifully done.

  9. M Says:

    wow, k, this brought up memories so long buried I had forgotten them, not so much of dread, but just the imagery triggered something.

    of the dread fail itself, this pen is so succinct and powerful in its depiction… perhaps that was the memory trigger? playing with Lincoln Logs, maybe age 2 or 3.

    sorry for digressing. this is a remarkable piece. ~

  10. Brendan Says:

    If the foundations are broken—half-made, interrupted, violated–then who we are struggles in water ever about over our heads. No matter how much we grow up. This is dangerous and fine.

  11. Perfect description of being exposed and that fear that we will be found out in our humanness!

  12. Even without reading about the prompt the poem made me uncomfortable. It works very well from inside out. Thanks.

    Greetings from London.

  13. gillena Says:

    This is quite intense. Our dread intimidates us. You have in a powerful way stated your dread

    Have a good weekend

    Much love..

  14. Oh my gosh, I have that fear often.. I am a former Southern Baptist so fear of failing came with the pew.

  15. ladynyo Says:

    This poem pushed me into the past…where dread was a daily sentiment. When a poet can evoke such a response in a reader, you are not diddling around with words….you are going straight for the heart.


  16. hedgewitch Says:

    A difficult read for me, k–so evocative of things one pushes under and pretends to forget–and the comparison is spot on–what can make our cheeks flame as bright as the exposure of that thing we are so ashamed of, through our own fault or through something we nonsensically think we could have changed–really starkly excellent.

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