1137: i have an irrational fear of spiders by Charlie Getter

202406011 Slowdown

1137: i have an irrational fear of spiders by Charlie Getter


I’m Major Jackson and this is The Slowdown.

We were on a flight to Miami, waiting on the runway. My friend Rennie pulled something out of his backpack, a can of Coke. He pulled back the tab. The can hissed its familiar release of carbon dioxide. He took a single sip, then, handed it to the flight attendant who was passing by. I said I had never heard of a bad can of Coca Cola. He replied, “Oh, it tasted good; I have a fear of flying. It’s my ritual. I take a swig of soda just before takeoff.” Aha, I said.

Today’s poem smartly interrogates the role of fears and how they might unreasonably control our lives.

i have an irrational fear of spiders
by Charlie Getter

I have an irrational fear of spiders
something unlike my old
                 irrational fear of flying
                 I’ve never been able to master

whenever I see a spider
                                  I jump back
                                  like the grandmother
                 in an old Tom & Jerry cartoon would
                 when she sees Jerry

I jump on a chair
and feverishly
                 wave around a broom

                 it’s embarrassing

                 and why is it that when I see a spider
                 there always seems to be a broom and chair handy
                                                                                                  escapes me

                 ninety-nine point nine
                 percent of the time
                 won’t hurt you

and they remove a bunch of insects
                                                                 that can

they’re constructed as an
intricate, delicate clockwork

with limbs articulated so 
they move like they’re doing
                                                tai chi

floating like the fog
                 over branches and
                 across ceilings

                 and they build and sew
                 mandalas in space
creating intricate repeating
intellectually… I love spiders

but I can’t overlook
that they spear their prey
                                               with fangs
                                               and suck the life
                                               out of them

                                               a spider looks at me
                                               with all of those eyes thinking
                              “...damn, if I were only bigger…”

I’m anthropomorphizing I know
but still, 
                 that inferred vicious indifference
                 to my existence

                 sends me up a chair
                 waving a broom around

sorry but… spiders is scary

and Tolkien didn’t help
imagining giant spiders
weaving darkness behind them

what scares you? anything?

                               crashing airplanes
                               malevolent spirits

do you smell that?

                 is it a gas leak?
                 is it a sweaty mugger?
                 is it that aftershave?
                 on that priest?

is that elevator 
that you’re crammed into
                 seizing to a stop in between floors?
                 are the lights going off inside it?

can you hear the elevator’s brakes squeaking?
is that elevator 
                 filling up
                                 with fratboys?
                                 with water?
                                 with millions of spiders?

                 out my window
                                 I look and see missiles
                 falling back
                                 into the atmosphere

on the bus
                 some guy keeps coughing
                 and every time he does
                 he lowers his mask
                                to his chin
                 which kind of defeats
                                the purpose
                                of the damn mask

a raccoon is running
                 down the street
                 and he is not cute
he’s foaming at the mouth
                 from all the rabies
                 his eyes red flames
                 of incurable disease

you made one mistake 
                 this morning boy!

                 you got out of bed 
                 and put on pants

you should be back in bed, sleeping

                 but there’s something called
                               “sleeping sickness”

which I know nothing about
it probably has something 
to do with sleeping 

it’s October and every channel
                                every website
                 has a series of scary movies
                                to watch

                 what a waste of time

                 everything, everywhere
                 is a potential nightmare

the only things 
                 that can’t fail you
                                are a pair of compression socks

                 but give me a minute
                 I’ll think of some reason
                                            that’s wrong

                 we live in peril

and if you get up in the morning
                                and put on pants

                 there should be some 
                 stuffy-looking, tiny 
                 old white guy
                 with epaulettes
                 on his shoulders
                 who kinda reminds you 
                 of Cap’n Crunch
                 to pin a medal on you 
                 because, peril

but you… you will navigate this day
                                              this whatever

                 there are a million demons 
                                between your ears
                 and dozens of calamities
                    	                     out there
                     	                     and those
                    	                     are the ones
                      		             that are only
                                 within a two block radius

                 and everyone that you know and love
                 are hopping up and down
                 on a tight rope, suspended 
                 over a river of crocodiles

but trust they will keep their balance
                                                 and know that 

                      a spider will be weaving a web
                                          maybe between
                      your gate and your door

                      and when you feel that
                                                         sticky silk
                      you will know your time is up
                      and you can say to yourself

                                              “I’m not going to make it
but Cap’n Crunch pinned a medal on me this morning
                                                                             and yes sir, it was delicious!”

"i have an irrational fear of spiders" by Charlie Getter. Used by permission of the poet.