Monday, September 10, 2018

DMC: "Fear" by Heidi Mordhorst


I hear about the man, a prisoner, who, starved and beaten and surely afraid,
wrote the names of his fellows in human blood on scraps of cloth sewn
into the collar of a shirt—a shirt that would be worn by whichever of
the company of prisoners was first released, carried out into the
world on his own back.   Witness.   And I ask myself, sitting
here with my cup of tea in my flannel pajamas, comfort
abounding: how dare I fear any loss, any torrent of
grief that I work so hard to keep contained, writ
in the pulse of my overfed blood, sewn into
the muscle of my unmarked neck and
back, worn like a skin.    Listen.
Have I any right to fear?   
I must look at it,
live it, leave
it, let go,

that skin
inside out.

© 2017 Heidi Mordhorst. All rights reserved.

Click HERE to read this month's interview with Naomi Shihab Nye. Her DMC challenge is to write a letter to yourself in which you ask some questions that you don't have to answer. (Please keep in mind that your poem does not need to be in standard letter form.)

Post your poem on our September 2018 padlet. While some contributions will be featured as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up presentation on Friday, September 28th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her latest collection of poetry from Greenwillow Books:


  1. So powerful, Heidi — this is one that will surely stay with me. Thank you for sharing it.

  2. I read your poem yesterday on the padlet, Heidi. It is one I ask often. Do I have anything to worry about, fear? No! You've shown this aspect of our lives that we don't often consider here in our safe & comfy lives in heart-rending words. Thanks for your voice.

  3. Oh, wow. That is really powerful, Heidi. Thank you!

  4. This reminds me of Naomi's poem, Kindness. How do you know what kindness is until you have lost things? How can we fear anything when we've read about the greatest possible terrors? On the eve of September 11th, this is a question we will all be asking. I love this structure. It leads us to that powerful line "turn that skin inside out."

  5. Wow, Heidi.

    So much fear, and so many people using it as a means of control.

    I have a senryu for 9/11 this week, and it, too, mentions fear. What have we become?

  6. Wow, Heidi! This is such a strong and moving poem. The structure is perfect and really ratchets up the tension. It can be all too easy to lose sight of how comfortable our lives really are. Thank you for asking powerful questions.

  7. Surprise! Thanks for sharing it, Michelle, and I'm glad everyone finds that it's carrying the weight I hoped. I chose it also because it sounds kind of Naomi to me...

  8. Very powerful piece. Thanks for sharing it here.

  9. I cried when I read your poem on the padlet. It hit me hard. So intense and a poem that made me think and ask questions. Thank you so very much.

  10. Wow! This is fantastic and thought provoking. It's good for many rereads.