Words Fail Me


Source: my.opera.com via Kelli on Pinterest



Fear is a medal at my breast

I earned the sharp pin, it sticks me

like a test.  Of strength and endurance

the measure of mice and men

but still I fear so many things

What if?  What could?  What then?


What if all my words ran out?

Nothing left for me to say

Just tumble turns in cloudy water,

before I run away.


when the fear rolls in, reflections lost

in smoke as I disappear – digress


Goosebumps creep through pallid sighs

as I lose myself to false impressions;

Diamonds in my eyes.  That’s the fear again,

do you see?  Become one of them

And as I morph, lose sight of me

Drop who I am and what I know

as chiffon shadows on the floor

leave only sticky fingerprints

as I head towards the door


A soft farewell integrity,

enter bitterness and lies; but slowly

I know, I’ll feel the bile rise

Return the words I seek to conjure,

my vernacular vomit. Here I go,

purge myself of worry and wonder

Fill my bucket, feed my urge,

play scrabble with the words

as I try to re-emerge


I respond to fear in fight or flight

Fear of being wrong or right, but what if

I’m not right at all?

What if, of everything I see, the problem is not them,

but me?  What then my friend?


A watched pot never boils they say

but what do they know anyway

So I guess I’ll turn away for now

and hope it doesn’t bubble over


Written in response to this week’s Poetics prompt hosted by the very fabulous Stuart McPherson.   Stu asked us to pen a poem about our fears and phobias.  Well folks, fear is my specialist subject at times and my words are often my shield and armour.  Helping me to defend myself, cope or heal.  But as I wrote this, and tried time and time again to work the form and the rhythm I realised another fear was emerging…. The fear of not getting it right.  Well I might be afraid of lots of things, but I’m not afraid to look my fears in the face and say, what’s the worst that will happen?  So yes I went off at tangents, I waved goodbye to form here and there, and some bits rhyme nicely and others sort of don’t, but I decided to leave it alone.  Face my fear and put it out there in all its incorrectness.  So leave a comment, do your worst if you wish… you don’t scare me 😉


31 responses to “Words Fail Me

  1. Ok…this very cool…and I’m glad you let the form run its natural course. There’s a few fears in here, fear of running out of words (I often think this myself- like- what would I do?) as well as a fear if failure (having to get things right all the time) and maybe there’s a bit of people pleasing in here as well. This actually just comes across as a really honest poem- you’re showing is something about yourself that actually, you might usually keep quite hidden- and that’s pretty awesome. Glad to see you at the pub! Glad to be reading some
    of that Vanessa Matthews vitriol again!

  2. OK- this is VERY cool & I’m so PLEASED to see you got your muse back! I’m actually really glad you let the form of this poem run….sometimes that’s the best thing to do, as hard as that may be! (I’m the same…i cant leave things alone)… I actually think that that this is an incredibly honest poem…and that in itself is awesome…you’re showing us things about yourself that maybe you wouldn’t do normally…..I like (and this sounds strange) but the fears that appear in this piece…fear of running out of thing to say (im the same- god know what i’d do), fear of failure (getting poems wrong?- again- I completely get this)…its great to see some of that Vanessa Matthews Vitriol & vernacular vomit!! ha ha…this is great writing

    • The ironic thing is that one of my biggest fears (and actually verging on a phobia) is… vomiting. I mean seriously I am afraid of it, shake, cry, lose control of my emotions if I feel even slightly nauseous. There are soooo many psychological reasons behind that, but I’ll cover that off some other day 🙂 Thanks Stu.

  3. I enjoyed the vulnerability of self in this piece. I always enjoy your voice, but seemed seemed like a closer peek inside. Very nice. I agree with much of what you said and love all the ways you presented them.

    • Thanks Henry, it’s been a while hasn’t it? Good to see you back here. Yes, there is a little peek in there that I hadn’t really been aware of as I was writing, but you are not the only person to spot it so I must have let something spill into it! 😉

  4. Hi Vanessa – I like that you chose to embrace the fear and let the strictures of form not define you in this poem. I too identify with the fear of losing words, of not getting it “right”, of no longer having anything to say. It’s terrifying. I wouldn’t wish your pot to boil over when you’re not looking, but I’m envisioning a cauldron of words to be stirred and rise in coloured steam… 🙂

  5. dang this is really good vanessa….one i would love to hear…the opening lines about fear being the pin and earning the prick of it….nice….and then your honest appraisal as well….lots of great questions to ponder in this as well for ourselves…

    • Do you know something Brian? I was this close to doing an audio… this close! I thought it would be good as a spoken word piece, but then I remembered… I talk like an idiot. Ho hum. Maybe I’ll hire an actor to perform it for me next time ha ha 🙂 Thanks, glad you enjoyed it though.

  6. Each time I think “this is the end” you add another, just the pattern of a person who fears being wrong, of leaving something out–and so as you add your writing becomes more alive and desperate. You know that of which you speak!
    “What if? What could? What then?
    . . .
    What if all my words ran out?”
    “Goosebumps creep through pallid sighs
    as I lose myself to false impressions . . . ”
    “A soft farewell integrity,
    enter bitterness and lies; but slowly
    I know, I’ll feel the bile rise . . .”

    And so on to flight, never being right . . . and I notice you use an image similar to “The silence of the lambs”–talk about FEAR!

    • Ah yes, I hadn’t thought of that when I chose the image but you are right…. ooooh that is scary! Thanks for your kindness Susan, glad you enjoyed it.

  7. “Drop who I am and what I know

    as chiffon shadows on the floor

    leave only sticky fingerprints

    as I head towards the door”

    this is simply great.
    loved the feel to it and the way you wrapped it up. the last line made me smile… amazing work!

    • Thank you! So glad those lines connected for you, I liked those too I must admit! And even more scary, I had just opened your blog page when your comment popped up! oooooh x

  8. You really captured many fears here. Perhaps all of us worry that our words will run out. (Is that the same as Writers’ Block?) And fear of being wrong, well I can feel that too!

  9. I understand where you’re coming from, but as far as I can see (proven time and time again), you have nothing to fear in that area. I really like this line and the stanza that follows:

    Goosebumps creep through pallid sighs

  10. You have nothing to fear about getting it right, you do and you have. Over and over again. So sad to think we let our fears sometimes rule us. You are a wonderful writer. Never doubt it.

  11. Yes very frightening when you feel you can’t express yourself…and then wonder if what you do is okay… I guess all we can do is fight that fear and write, create everyday… terrific poem!

  12. The words do seem to tumble out here sometimes tight and sometimes helter skelter, but I think their form and their running free work together well–you get fear down, because at least half of the scare is uncertainty– not knowing what will happen, fearing it will be the worst, and the worst that you fear is even worse than the worst that could be–ummm, what did I just say? Not sure it makes sense, but I liked what you said a lot.

  13. I, too, noticed each stanza felt like the end but there was more to add to the overall feeling of helplessness in regard to mounting fears…well written to give the sense of anticipation of fear itself.;)

  14. I love this, Vanessa. You know why? Because it’s a thought I’ve had before – of how we could never bear all the sorrow of life at once, or all the bliss either. We are given a balance, although we might not notice it as such when we are in the throws of joy or the arms or anguish…. The same is words. We surely couldn’t keep up if they all came at once. This is beautiful….and the image is just right (although a little dark for my taste in general)…….but it fits, and it is perfectly balanced with your talents. ~ Love you, Bobbie

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