Read Poem: WHAT TO GIVE UP, by Bee Smith

Just give up your fear for Lent this year.
Hold up your hands.
Surrender your terror.
Feel the bands of panic
loosen in your chest.

I know. I know!
It’s not the best of times.
But just think about all those
forty days without your silent fear.
Better than cutting out the beer
or chocolate, though
you might think you are
on the path to career suicide
seeing as all these seem to be built
on daily doses of lethal

Think of it as answering
the hero’s call in the desert,
braving storms, fighting demons.
Accept no imitations.
No cross would be too hard to bear,
no thorny shard would prick your resolve
to its conscience’s very quick.

You’d shrug off tax demands,
VAT, NCT, and all those other levies
apocalyptically breaching the banks of some Mississippi.
Nothing would faze your glacial gaze.
You would be as serene as the fat Buddha
sitting in your garden, all smiley
transcendence of suffering’s meaning.

Is fear the fire in the belly?
Or is it what gets us out of bed each morning?
Does it turn us into rabbits made of jelly?
Or acolytes fawning over bullies,
subjugated by every bellow?

They say the colour of cowardice is yellow.
Or is it the purple of our bruised pride?
Is it more a slow brown stew?
What do you hide? Is it
your leaden defeat and inaction?
The spilt blood of your rage’s actions?
Have you considered Agent Orange’s
decades’ long legacy?
Have you noticed the seeping
of septic envy? It seems that fear
can make up a whole rainbow coalition.

Can you give up fear for Lent,
maybe just for one year?

Bee Smith facilitates Word Alchemy Creative Writing Workshops in West Cavan and is on the Irish Art Council’s Writers in Prisons panel. Her articles can be found widely across the blogosphere. She is the author of “Brigid’s Way: Celtic Reflections on the Divine Feminine” available as an ebook on Amazon. BrigidsWay.

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