Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Facing fear: The man hiding in the basement

My series of guest posts on the topic of fear continues with this visit from Jacqueline Jules on the "Boogey Man in the Basement:"

Fear, like a boogey man crouching in the cellar, is always waiting to attack me. Since childhood, panic has made me hide under the bed when I could have been living my life more fully.

Imagining the worst is easy. Calming myself is not. In recent years, I have made a conscious effort to fight the imagined monsters in my head through my poetry. I wrote the following poem, “Boogey Man at the Bottom” during a period of stress when I worried about the health of a loved one. Forcing myself to stay out of the basement, where my fears where waiting to strangle me, took great effort. So I gave myself a visual, a picture of myself standing at the top of the stairs, considering the danger of descending. In my poem, I listed the reasons why it was a poor choice and convinced myself to walk away.

For weeks after finishing the poem, whenever I found myself dwelling on frightening thoughts, I repeated the lines of my poem, “Why go down there?” It gave me comfort. Anticipating the worst is like running into the arms of the boogey man. It does not help us. But closing the creaky door with peeling paint and seeking lighted rooms above ground certainly does.

BOOGEY MAN AT THE BOTTOM*
by Jacqueline Jules

Close the creaky door with peeling paint.
Why go down there?
The steps are rotting and the light bulb’s broke.
Turn off the flashlight
and the shadows it makes.
Turn away
from crumbling cinder block and scurrying rats.
Why go down there?
The boogey man is grinning at the bottom
with brittle white arms. You don’t need his bony hug.
Resist the quaking steps, the creepy darkness.
What will you find besides the sticky kiss of cobwebs,
the bad breath of moldy dust?
Seek a room without shadows, above ground.
Close the creaky door with peeling paint.
Walk away.

*“Boogey Man at the Bottom”  appears in Imitation Fruit, Issue 10, April 2012

Jacqueline Jules is the author of 24 books including the Zapato Power series. Visit her at www.jacquelinejules.com

Freddie Ramos comes home from school and finds a strange box just for him.  What's inside?  ZAPATO POWER — shoes that change Freddie's life by giving him super speed!

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