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Fear ~ Micro-Fiction and Poetry

John is a poet and short fiction writer who enjoys collaborating on stories with other writers, and partaking in challenges.


Becoming fearless isn't the point. That's impossible. It's learning how to control your fear, and how to be free from it.

— Veronica Roth, Divergent

Inspired to Write About Fear

The inspiration for this collection of musings is once again Brenda Arledge and her weekly word prompt. For this week 32, the word Brenda provided us with was “fear.” In fact I can’t think of a better word to get the mind working and the ink flowing.

”Fear” has been the subject of countless stories, fairy tales, and poetry since man first started carving on cave walls, and will continue to be so. We all have a fear of something and there is the name of a phobia to suit every one of those.

The reason this subject is so popular is that we love to be scared. It gets the fight or flight receptors working and our adrenalin pumping. While we may not like being afraid and fearful in “real life” we love it in books and movies. They can scare our pants off, but we can put the book down or turn off the TV afterwards, and be relieved that it was just a story and we weren’t actually enduring it.

In fact, we don't have to experience extreme terror to be fearful. We can simply fear the unknown, the dark, the thought of death or dying, the consequences of revealing a secret or saying something that may upset a friend or loved one, or that puts us on the spot and forces us to commit to something we aren't ready for. We could be frightened of public speaking. I know I am, but I can do it if I am forced to.

Fear is an emotional response, sometimes it is founded, other times it isn't, but to the person experiencing the fear, it is very real. For instance, I know that a grasshopper or praying mantis can't hurt me, but that doesn't stop me from jumping three feet in the air and waving my arms around if one lands on me or clings to me.


What Is Fear?

We fear what lurks within the dark,

Those things we cannot see.

False courage soon deserts us,

And the unknown makes us flee.

Our minds often assume the worst,

Imagination can be cruel.

We think we see things that aren’t there,

Just like tormented fools.

What we can’t see won’t hurt us,

Though I think that’s too naive.

There may be sharks beneath the waves

Waiting for a tasty feed.

“What is fear?” You’re right to ask,

“Is it just a state of mind?”

When faced with things we do not know

Our bravado tends to hide.

But we can’t spend our lives in dread,

Fearing what may come to pass.

Each day is a risk in itself,

And our lives go by too fast.

So, be brave and show some courage,

Take a chance and forge ahead.

Make new adventures every day,

It’s too late when we’re dead.

Image by 631372 from Pixabay

Image by 631372 from Pixabay

My Phobias

I know I’m being paranoid

but I am scared of snakes.

Just a photograph of one

makes me sweat and shake.

And I am also scared of bugs,

I don’t like clinging critters.

They grab you with their spiky feet,

that feeling gives me jitters.

Spiders, they just make me run,

not into a web I hope!

This world’s a terrifying place,

I don’t know how I cope.

I don’t mind sharks, they have their place,

and that is in the sea.

If I need to swim I’ll use a pool,

so they don’t bother me.


To me, Fearless is not the absense of fear. It's not being completely unafraid. To me, Fearless is having fears. Fearless is having doubts. Lots of them. To me, Fearless is living in spite of those things that scare you to death.

— Taylor Swift

FEAR ~ an Acrostic Poem

Forbidden treasures act as bait

Enticing those with greed

Awaiting, though, a fearful curse

Reeking havoc when it’s freed.

Stairway leading down: Image by Eduardo Vieira from Pixabay

Stairway leading down: Image by Eduardo Vieira from Pixabay

The Cavern of All Fears

There is a trapdoor in the floor,

A staircase leading down.

Cobwebs line the step treads,

You descend it with a frown.

At the bottom of the stairs

A wooden door awaits,

And on the ancient door, a sign,

"BE SURE!" is what it states.

Will you open up that door,

Enter the dark beyond,

Or retreat back up the stairs

And to your fears respond?

Carefully you unlock the door

And bravely push on through.

Are you a hero or a fool?

One or both are true.

You cannot see beyond the door,

There's darkness all around.

Tentatively you inch ahead,

Something scuttles on the ground.

Turning back you try the door

But it is tightly closed,

You can't return from where you came,

You're frightened and exposed.

A wooden door awaits

A wooden door awaits

You feel your way along the path,

Hands pressed against the wall.

With no idea what's on the ground

You daren't chance to fall.

An eerie shriek comes from your right,

"Protect me Lord!" you pray.

Terrified, you hurry left

But something blocks your way.

Stumbling back, no choice of path

You shed an unseen tear.

The tunnel walls constrict on you,

An agoraphobic fear.

You have to stoop to progress on.

Where will this tunnel end?

The words, "BE SURE!" run through your brain,

You should have turned back then.

Suddenly, the ground gives way,

The path just disappears.

You plunge into a deep abyss,

The Cavern of All Fears.


Fear robs you of your freedom to make the right choice in life that can bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be. On the other side of fear, lies freedom. If you want to grow, you need to be brave and take risks. If you're not uncomfortable, you're not growing.

— Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart


Those Three Words ~ a Micro-Fiction Story

Her big brown eyes looked back at me with anxious anticipation, but my own refused to offer her the answers she sought.

If I am skilled at anything it is hiding my emotions. That can be good or bad depending on the situation. To her, it was totally unacceptable, and she pressured me to be more open.

It felt like she was begging me to say those words … those three words I dreaded. How hard was it after all? If I just open my mouth and form the words … it will be over and done with in a second.

Her small soft hand was in mine. I squeezed it gently, reassuringly (for myself more than her), as I closed my eyes, trying to pluck up courage. My bottom lip trembled fearfully as I tried to talk.

As my mouth opened, I hesitated … I started to speak but my voice was breaking up like a weak radio signal, “Um … I …. ….”

( I will leave it up to you dear reader to fill in the three words. Please let me know your suggestions/guesses in the comments.)

© 2021 John Hansen


John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 12, 2021:

Shauna, sorry to freak you out with Cavern of All Fears, i would not have been going past that door as I also suffer claustrophobia. Spiders I can handle, except walking into a web in the dark. Haha, your three words have me rolling on the floor.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on October 12, 2021:

P.S. I'm claustrophobic, too. That's why The Cavern of All Fears freaked me out. Great job!

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on October 12, 2021:

John, The Cavern of All Fears had my blood pressure rising as panic set in. That experience would have scared the bejeezus out of me. Remind me never to go down stairs that don't reveal what's at the bottom!

I don't like spiders, especially the big hairy ones. Thanks for grossing me out with that photo, my friend.

Um, I just peed. (Those are my three words.) LOL

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 10, 2021:

Haha Devika, am certainly pleased that I managed to capture your attention. Have a good week.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on October 10, 2021:

Jodah great writing and you surely have got my attention.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 01, 2021:

Hey Li-Jen. Thanks for reading my response to the Prompt “Fear.”

I am glad you saw that The Cavern of All Fears was one big metaphor too, and that you could relate to the phobias. Not sure about continuing the micro fiction story. Maybe I will..let’s see.

Li-Jen Hew on October 01, 2021:

Hey Jodah. I'm glad you participated in the fear prompt. You reminded us how important it is to overcome fears. I enjoyed the wisdom in your poems and the phobias are relatable! I like how we can take the cavern of fears literally at first and realise it's a cavern of fears metaphorically. It's like we are cheating ourselves haha. I enjoyed the suspense of your micro-fiction story. I look forward to see you continue the story if you plan on doing so. :)

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 30, 2021:

Hello, Nithya. Thank you for reading and enjoying this article. I try to write a non-rhyming poem now and then, but for me that is much more difficult, so it doesn’t happen often.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on September 30, 2021:

I enjoyed reading all your poems and micro-fiction. Brilliant! You have portrayed fear so well in each of your poems and in my favorite rhyming verse. A wonderful response to Brenda’s word prompt.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 30, 2021:

Hey Peggy! I am glad you enjoyed all the poems and the story. I enjoyed writing these.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 30, 2021:

Thank you, Tim. I try my best. Your comment is greatly appreciated.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 30, 2021:

Hello Vidya, most of us have a phobia of some sort. We really have to face our fears and often we train ourselves to endure it. I am pleased that you enjoyed the poems and the quotes.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 30, 2021:

All of your poems about fear were excellent, and that micro-story left much to the imagination. Good work, John!

Mark Tulin from Palm Springs, California on September 30, 2021:

Very good prompt to show off your many talents, John.

VIDYA D SAGAR on September 30, 2021:

Excellent collection of poems and micro fiction story John. You have outdone yourself with this prompt. I am terrified of snakes too and lizards, cockroaches, bees, mice, oh the list is endless. But as you rightly said we can't live in dread forever, we have to be brave and forge ahead. The quotes are also superb. I thoroughly enjoyed your response. Thanks for sharing.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 30, 2021:

Bill, I forgot about heights when I was listing some fears. That affects a lot of people. Actually, I am very claustrophobic...close cramped spaces really freak me out. So glad you enjoyed the last one.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 30, 2021:

I know I'm afraid of heights. I don't know if I have any other fears. I'll have to think about that one. Loved your response to the prompt. The last one was outstanding.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 30, 2021:

Thank you for your constant support and encouraging words, Pamela. I have already had a few suggests for the last story, so don’t worry.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on September 30, 2021:

Hi John

You certainly outdid yourself with your response to Brenda's prompt "fear".

I have no idea how to respond to your last story. All your poems were excellent, as lays. I relate quite well to the poem on phobias. Well done!

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 30, 2021:

Haha Brenda. I drew you in didn’t I? There are a few more options like “I need space” …. “I love us” I like. I just wanted to illustrate how people can be afraid of saying things for whatever reason, but then I may be just fishing for readers ideas. If I do finish the story I will want the three words to be a surprise.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on September 30, 2021:


Glad you liked my responses for those 3 little words, but "I'm so sorry" would make him seem that nervous too.

You've got me going on this one now! (Haha)

You are right though..without the word, I...there are so many phrases We'd toss your way.

I love you is really that age old saying, but I think it can be said too often as mere words like in this case.

He knows she wants to hear it.

It's much better if it comes from his own heart & in his own time.

So maybe, I want us to share our lives together....therefore, i love us.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 30, 2021:

Hi Rinita. Haha, I will take “sublime yet earthy” as a nice compliment. I guess I should have expanded on the micro-fiction story, and maybe I will when I decide on an outcome. I just wanted to tease the readers a bit and see what suggestions I got. If I do finish it the three words won’t be what anyone expects.

Rinita Sen on September 30, 2021:

Your last poem was, how do I say it, a mix of sublime yet earthly! And I like the wordplay with "reeking" in the acrostic poem. The story's not mine to complete. I guess I'll just wait for a sequel, haha.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 30, 2021:

Hello Vanita, thank you very much for the generous comment. Yes, Brenda’s elaborations are wonderful and do add great value to an article.

It seems that “I love you” will be the most popular three words chosen.

You are right, a lot of people are frightened of dogs, and I can’t imagine having lions and leopards roaming close to my home at night. That would make one fearful. Take care.

Vanita Thakkar on September 30, 2021:

A great take on Brenda's latest word prompt, John !! Amazing response. Loved everything about it.

Brenda's elaborations have added value to what you wrote.

I would go for "I love you" as the missing words in the flash fiction, but perhaps, "I leave you" is the one which often turns its head ....

The list of fears can go on and on - insects and reptiles are very common. Some people are very much afraid of dogs. I have quite of few of that kind around me. In some rural parts of my state Gujarat, leopards and lions enter human habitats, especially during night and harm domestic animals and sometimes humans as well ....

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 30, 2021:

Hello Fran, it is a great compliment that my poems make you feel a part of them. Thank you for reading and commenting and watch out for those eight-legged fiends.

fran rooks from Toledo, Ohio on September 30, 2021:

John, it is always such a pleasure to read your poem submissions. Somehow I feel as if I'm there in them. Thank you for submitting. And, I fear spiders!

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 30, 2021:

Rosina, spiders and snakes don’t bother me that much as long as they keep their distance. They just aren’t my favourites. I find lizards like geckos and skinks cute. I am glad you enjoyed these poems and the micro-fiction story. Take care.

Rosina S Khan on September 30, 2021:

Thank you, John, for this terrific article. I loved all the splendid poetry. It was nice to know all your phobias of creatures. I can't stand lizards or cockroaches but I don't fear spiders. The micro-fiction was interesting and awesome. The man's missing three words I would assume to be, "I love you" as many others have guessed. This was a huge entertainment for me including the quotes this early afternoon. Wish you all the very best.

Misbah Sheikh from The World of Rebels. on September 30, 2021:

Oh! Don't tell me you like Lizards. ;) I can make jumps from far by just seeing them. Lol! :P

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 29, 2021:

Hi Misbah, thank you for reading this article, my friend. It is always good to read that you enjoyed my work. The three words could very well be "I love you," but they could alternatively be "I'm leaving you," or "I'm so sorry." I am not fearful of cockroaches, though I dislike them. But, lizards I like. I am glad you liked the quotes too. Blessings!

Misbah Sheikh from The World of Rebels. on September 29, 2021:

John, you never miss the chance to make a hit. I am in awe of your talent, dear friend. I enjoyed reading your lovely poems and the Micro-Fiction Story. I think the three words have many options, but I will go with 'I love you.' I loved the quote by Roy T. Bennett and Tylor swift. Are you missing the fear of Lizards and cockroaches? ;) I enjoyed your wonderful response to Brenda's prompt. Thank you so much for sharing. God Bless you and take care.

Blessings always!!

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 29, 2021:

Hi Brenda, thank you for taking the time to read this article and offer your in-depth interpretation. I originally wrote three poems, but then felt like I needed another, so added one more. So, yes, my muse was off and running.

Your guesses for the three words are very good....one of them could quite possibly be correct..then again..haha. I considered not giving the first word "I" as a hint...but that would have opened it up to too many possibilities.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 29, 2021:

Hi Zeenat, thank you for reading my work. It may look a little daunting to make one long article with a number of poems and commentary, but it isn't that difficult. You have already published about eight poems in a couple of days, so I am sure you can do it. Not everyone does it this way, but it works for me. I am glad you enjoyed these.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on September 29, 2021:


That grasshopper landing on me might be okay unless it startled me & I didn't know what it was, but a praying mantis...no way.

I don't like insects nor mice & other critters like that in the house.

Bees extremely frighten me too.

In your poem, "What Is Fear?" you leave us with a very good message.

Life is too short to worry about the things we fear.

"Let Go of Fear & Live Your Life"

But I'm like you when it comes to the ocean, those sharks might be waiting for a tasty treat.

In "My Phobias" you tell us the things that make you afraid.

Snakes definitely have my vote too. I don't know how these people walk around with them wrapped around their body.

I do have me a handy little gadget that helps out with critters.

It's a handheld tennis racket bug zapper that works with batteries.

Though it us a bit fearful being that close to the critters as you try to zap them, but it's instant relief when they fry.

"FEAR ~ an Acrostic Poem" tells us when we chase after a fobidden treasure with No Fear, our life can become a living hell.

"The Cavern of All Fears" shows us how we respond to fear.

When making hard life choices we must Be Sure, just like the sign in your poem represents after that creepy walk of uncertainty down the stairs.

We don't know what tomorrow brings or where our steps will lead us.

Sometimes it's too late. We've plunged head first and took the bait only to fall down into the darkness, alone & weak.

We cry unto the Lord to help protect us for we've made a mistake.

We opened the door, when we should have ran away.

In "Those Three Words ~ a Micro-Fiction Story" you show us how fear embraces a man's love life.

Men are always afraid to say those 3 little words.

You show us a man who is being pressured by his lady to be more open.

She wants him to say those 3 little words that he dreads so much.

Just the thought of it gives him Fear.

Then you leave us hanging, making us guess what he really says.

So here goes.

I Want Us.

I Am Yours.

I Love You

I Hate Drama

I Appreciate You

Which one? I'm not certain for you say he is terrified and can hide his feelings well.

Maybe..I want Us.

Or I love you.

Because he knows that is what she wants to hear.


I cannot believe how on fire your muse was with this word.

Somehow I picture you not even wanting to stop.

Great work. I posted link in the word prompt article.

As always...if I get it wrong, let me know.

Zeenat on September 29, 2021:

I enjoyed reading your hub. So know I know how to expand and stretch my work to make it long. I fear if I can do it. Amazing work! I especially enjoyed the phobias one.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 29, 2021:

Thank you Srushti. I hope my poems offered strength and positivity to overcome. I appreciate your comment.

Srushti Gamit on September 29, 2021:

So beautifully written poems John!!

I kinda like to read such stuff that actually provides strength and power to overcome our fear or pain.

Thanks for sharing it.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 29, 2021:

Thank you, MG. I have published a few in an ebook, and in a collection with other authors, but I have been sorting through others and formatting to publish a hard copy book eventually.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 29, 2021:

Hello Chitrangada, it is always good to see you. I am glad you enjoyed these “fearful” poems. “I love you” could very well fit the missing words. Sometimes it is scary to make that committment.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 29, 2021:

Hi MsDora, i am glad you enjoyed these poems, especially “What Is Fear.” Have a great day.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on September 29, 2021:

That's a great tale and lovely poetry. Why not collect all your poems and publish them. Have you?

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on September 29, 2021:

Hello John!

What a wholesome article, about Fear!

I loved all your poems, and I would have to add many other creatures in the list of phobias.

Interesting micro fiction, and I believe the three words, might be, '--I love you.' Because, love can be either spontaneous or a very thoughtful decision.' It will be interesting to read, what other writers have to say.

Thank you for sharing!

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on September 29, 2021:

"What is fear" is my favorite in this list of excellent poems. You are quite versatile, and all your poems are excellent.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 29, 2021:

Hi Umesh, thank you for being the first to read this. I appreciate your comment. "..I leave you" is certainly one possibility for what he says. Thank you for participating.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on September 29, 2021:

Beautiful work, Jodah. Nice composition. Coming to your short fiction my suggestion is -

Um, so, I leave you.

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