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We Are Afraid

Jennifer L. Knox

We are afraid of Godzilla movies 
and the Japanese people who made them. 
What do they have against us anyway? We are afraid 
of spontaneously combusting: drunk, alone and nowhere
near a fireplace and the only thing left will be the knees 
on down. We are afraid 
of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. We are afraid 
of the thing on the wing of the plane. We are afraid 
the peeping tom had a damn good reason to pick 
our window over the neighbor’s. We are afraid 
an elderly couple will kidnap us and keep us locked in a box 
under their bed for ten years, opening it every other day 
to spoon feed us pudding from a can and they’ll never change 
our diaper, and when finally they tire of us 
stinking up the place they’ll take us out 
to the woods and let us go but we won’t know what to do so we’ll 
find our way back and they’ll say Lord have mercy 
and use every last ounce of their elderly strength
to beat us unconscious, then they’ll put us back in the box. We are afraid 
of junior high school students and the nauseating things 
they say among their own kind. We are afraid 
of getting needles in our eyes. We are afraid 
of what’s in the Tupperware. We are afraid 
when we get old we’ll be shipped off to an island 
for people who spent all their money on beer. We are afraid 
of our own unborn children: that one day it’ll all come down 
to Mom, Dad—can I have the car tonight? and when we say 
no they’ll shoot us in the head. We are afraid 
of Mississippi. We are afraid 
the frogs will disappear. We are afraid 
glaciers at both ends of the planet will melt and everyone left alive will be 
“escorted” to the Yukon Territories and we’ll pass the time 
not teaching the kids how to fish,
not planting corn in a biosphere,
not writing books about starting over or what the fuck went wrong, instead 
we’ll run around just as screwy 
as we were before the thaw: still selfish, still whiny, still cowering 
like beat down dogs before the voice in our heads: 
you’re small you’re slow you suckers suck: a voice 
harder to kill off than roaches—a voice
that ain’t afraid of shit.