Fear Itself

That big angry dog
at the end of my paper route
half German Shepherd
half fear itself

The one who barks and snaps
at my tires as I pedal away
fast as my twelve-year-old
legs can pump

Some days he’s just inside
menacing from behind the door
but some days he’s loose
in the yard lying in wait

I worry the whole route
stomach churning worry
stink worry sweating
worrying worrying worry

Once I even threw up
as I turned down his block
puce anxiety and dread
in a puddle on asphalt

And when I got his house
he wasn’t even there

About Bartholomew Barker

Bartholomew Barker is one of the organizers of Living Poetry, a collection of poets and poetry lovers in the Triangle region of North Carolina. Born and raised in Ohio, studied in Chicago, he worked in Connecticut for nearly twenty years before moving to Hillsborough where he makes money as a computer programmer to fund his poetry habit.
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35 Responses to Fear Itself

  1. trE says:

    I know this feeling right here.

    “I worry the whole route
    stomach churning worry
    stink worry sweating
    worrying worrying worry”

    I love this, Bart. I could really see the visuals in this one.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. JeanMarie says:

    Woof woof :(

    Liked by 1 person

  3. jai says:

    Sounds as if that dog was messing with your mind—pure evil, at least in a twelve-year-old’s mind. Great writing, Bartholomew; I was right there riding my bike beside you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. berniebell1955 says:

    “And when I got his house
    he wasn’t even there”

    Yup – that’s it – right there. The real enemy is fear and, as Frank Herbert says in ‘Dune’ – fear kills the mind. It stops us thinking.

    Here’s a tale – there’s always a tale. When I was about 13 years old, I used to walk up to see my friend. At the end of the row of houses where she lived was a pub. The pub owners had an Alsatian called …Wolf. They had him as a guard dog. I used to be afraid, all the way walking to Theresa’s house, in case Wolf would be on the loose.

    And now, here’s the interesting bit. If he was there, as I turned into the passageway to Theresa’s he’d run at me, then get my ankle in his mouth. He never even broke the skin. He just held it, but if I moved – he’d tighten the hold.

    I’d start to call for the folk in the pub to come and get him – which they did – with apologies.

    Some people said I should report him, as they were scared of him too, but he never hurt me and if I did report him, he might have been put down. I love dogs – I was afraid of Wolf, but didn’t dislike him (?) and didn’t want him to be put down.

    So we just went through this performance, every time he was out when I went to see Theresa.

    Admittedly, he did bite people. The third time of being reported, he was put down.

    The question is – why did he hold my ankle?

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is odd. Who knows what thoughts were running through Wolf’s mind?


      • berniebell1955 says:

        I love dogs – but don’t pretend to know what/how they think – we are a different species.
        Tho’ – I’m thinking of that cartoon where a dog is listening to someone talking, and what it hears is…”Blah blah blah blah biscuit blah blah blah blah walk blah blah blah etc”.

        Different worlds – with some understanding between the two.

        What gets me is the thought of how much stronger their sense of smell is – unimaginable for us – a very different world.

        My Dad said that Wolf must have liked me, as he didn’t hurt me – maybe that was the nearest he got to being friendly, and so, not to be afraid of him.

        Anyhoo – you’re in m’blog again…


        Last word – one of my sisters had a plate on her wall which said ‘Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday’

        I gave it to her – she was a worriter.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Cassa Bassa says:

    Lots tension!!!
    “half German Shepherd
    half fear itself” 💚

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh wow Bartholomew, I think all of us can relate to your story and have our own horror stories of fearing fear itself. I know I have certainly had my fair share, even as an adult. As I heard someone say, “Worrying doesn’t take away tomorrow’s troubles, but just takes away today’s peace. Thanks for connecting with us in such an intimate way my friend! 🐕‍🦺🐶🐕 Cheers! 🥂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. berniebell1955 says:

    And of course there’s the question of why that dog was angry? As you say – he was half fear himself. Probably a human had put fear into him.

    I’ll stop now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Obviously my perception of the dog at the time was skewed. Looking back, he was probably just being territorial and/or by trying to pedal away I was triggering his instinct to chase. It’s also possible he wasn’t even being all that aggressive and I was overreacting.


  8. I had that same experience when I was in 5th grade!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Aaeedah says:

    Love how visually rich this piece of writing is! The whole scenario just unfolded right in front of my eyes. Some of my own such memories came back rushing to me too, some good, some of them really bad, you know.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Yikes. Big dogs can be scary, but it seems you have gotten over your canine dread. What dedication to continue with the route. I would have just said, I’m not doing this. But I went into some scary yards when I was canvassing for CalPIRG. Never bitten. Never paid well either. And so much stress. So yeah, I’ve suffered for my jobs too.



    Liked by 1 person

  11. Sounds right about fear Bart. Wait… are you a paper boy now.. should I be shaking in my boots?🤷‍♀️

    Liked by 1 person

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