John FitzGerald

The Mind (parts 12-16)



Fear begins as larva.

Compare that to desire,

which is born just a smaller version of what it always will be.


Fear transforms into other things, desires just get bigger.

Some like to point out that the caterpillar transforms into a butterfly.

Maggots become flies, but who pretends to notice?


Fears can become both flies and butterflies, given a choice.

Fear predicts the future. 

That is how it knows where it is now. 





Fear has a face that disappears whenever I look into it.

Removed from the center of the world,

I am afraid, and that is the point.


Fear is a hole between two places. 

Some might call it a door.

I have three fears that look like worms in a jar:


The first is writhing, gasping for breath but still alive,

the second is just there, without knowing why,  

and the third is nothing to write about.




The exterminator comes today, to pick up 4 fears in a jar.

I’ve added another since last time,

I’ve been surveilling.


Panic is half way in between pain and fear.

It comes with the realization that

no holes are cut in the lid.


At first, he cannot see them. I have to point them out.

When he does he says he’s never known the likes.

He’ll send them out to be identified. 






They have obsessed me now, like any fear will.

Turns out fears are tiny worms jumping to their conclusions. 

They are much too small for their own identities.


Were an eyelash an inchworm, only faster.

Fears appear to have heads at both ends,

with I imagine no buzz, but spiked hair.


When I saw the first one folding and unfolding

its way across a legal pad, I reacted like Doctor Frankenstein,

having just brought a line to life. 





If not for their direction, you could not tell which end to look into.

I had to take a second glance to determine it was astray.

When I find things astray, I test them for intelligence.


I put a post-it note in its path, but it stopped in its tracks and stood on end

the way a steel sliver stands and quivers beneath a magnet,

as if to mimic a blade of grass (a worm-trick, played on birds).


It apparently tested the intelligence of those gone astray as well.

The note says the primary goal is expansion.

How I’d love for the words to just walk off the page like that.




“The Mind (parts 12-16)” is from The Mind (Salmon Poetry, 2011).