"All Day I Have Been Afraid" won the $1,000 Third Place in the 2002 Davoren Hanna International Poetry Competition.

Judge Billy Collins writes:
A very disquieting poem right from its title, “All Day I Have Been Afraid” is a journey through a Larkin-like cycle of depression. One unsettling image after another describes a toxic world where Nature with its sick sun and threatening moon offers no solace.

Judge Carol Ann Duffy writes:
Written in Unrhyming couplets which worry away at its subject of fear and anxiety like wringing hands, this poem is remarkable for its images of the sun and moon. The moon is a machete. The sun “grips the hills” like someone getting into a sickbed. The language is simple, perhaps consciously clipped, as it recounts the collage of worry and paranoia which makes up the poem.


 

All Day I Have Been Afraid

 

I heard Mrs. Lee scream Kill me! Kill me!

from inside her house and I did not move.

 

At noon, all the dogs in the neighborhood

began barking wildly.  Was an unbearable truth

 

told in a pitch only they could hear? 

The television said E. coli lurks

 

in my laundry and kitchen sponge, and toxic

waste has leaked into the drinking water. 

 

A bright disc with many lights hovered

in the afternoon sky above the backyard fence. 

 

A small child came to my door and asked

if I wanted to buy a chance—Yes! More chances!

 

I said, and took twenty.  The sun, my once

cheerful companion, lowers herself

 

like a woman easing into her sickbed. 

The August wind slowly prowls

 

the rooms.  Bats start to swoop nooses

over my head.  Now

 

the sharp moon appears, a bright machete

swung high in the evening sky.

 

                                                                       


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