'The fear (unfinished)' by Omar Musa | States of Poetry ACT - Series One

They said,
'be afraid.'

And the people became afraid.

I stood,
              a dwarf in a petrified forest,
              watching them dance the ancient dance —
              there seemed joy in their terror,
              & laughter, too.

People baked bullets into their bread.
They chopped up newspapers
              & fried them
              with sliced onions & sizzling steaks.
They stroked surveillance cameras
              between their legs.
They treated TV screens like wells,
              dipping buckets into them,
              filling teacups
              & offering them to neighbours.

At times it held the shape of mirrors & men,
but mostly,
the fear spread across the waking earth
              as if it were gas

              & gas expands to fill
              whatever vessel
              it is put in.

A man would not serve me at the supermarket.
A woman crossed the street to avoid me.
An anonymous email wished death upon me.

I, too,
became afraid.


Omar Musa