The only thing we have to fear…

is not fear itself but ourselves. I am my own worst enemy – or maybe my mind is. It keeps me awake at night with a stream of thoughts and nightmares. It started when I was a child. Listening to adults talk or the news on the radio sparked so many fears of the unknown: horrific stories of what happened to friends and family in the Second World War; the Cold War gave me chills; the Vietnam War was thousands of miles away but it was there on the television in terrifying black and white. Later, I was afraid that I couldn’t keep my child safe. That I would let her down. She’s made it into adulthood. Now I fear for the grandchildren I don’t even have yet.

gnarled knots on branches
exploding with spring blossom
survival instinct

Kim M. Russell, 2017


My response to dVerse Poets Pub Haibun Monday: The only thing we have to fear…

Toni is hosting this week’s Haibun Monday and has shared a number of quotes, including the following from President Roosevelt’s inaugural speech to the American people in 1932:  “The only thing we have to fear…”  is fear itself.”

Toni would like us to write about fear: what we are afraid of; what has frightened us in the past; what frightens us about the future. We all have fears. We have all been afraid. Most of us pick up and carry on after being frightened, some of us carry scars forever. She wants us to write about something real that actually frightens or frightened us, which can be as simple as the nightmares we had last night or something as complex as phobias – insects, being outside, cats, black cats, dogs, chickens, red cars, the number 13 – or as simple as walking home in the dark one night with all the night sounds around us.

It must be a classic haibun with one to three paragraphs of non-fiction that actually happened or could happen to us, ending with a seasonal haiku. We can use one of the quotes she has given us or find our own quotes about fear.


42 thoughts on “The only thing we have to fear…

  1. I love the picture of this tree in bloom. It is one of my favorite spring blooms. but that aside…the viet Nam war, the Cuban missile crisis, the race riots…all of this accounted for much anxiety In this decade just before 1970. The haiku is amazing…survival instinct – yes indeed!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a picture of our cherry tree – thick with blossom but it never has any fruit! We could do with some as David suffers from gout and is drinking lots of cherry juice, as recommended for gout sufferers. I love cherries. We’ve had our fair share of events in the UK, what with the Brixton riots, the riots in 2011 and the various bombings. Up here in Norfolk, we don’t get any of that but the UK is so small, it’s not really that far away. But nothing is these days, with 24 hour TV news and the Internet.


  2. Not being able to shut off one’s brain at bedtime is a malady. I have to admit I use the TV as a sedative, and set it to shut off after I’ve finally fallen asleep. I loved the cherry blossoms … so sad they don’t lead to cherries!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fear changes its mask every year. After 70+ years, I find the new Trumpian atmosphere of fear to be more stressful by the hour. I live near Seattle & N. Korea has targeted it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. These news can be very stressful to a young child ~ I recall being afraid that the world was coming to an end. Yes, all these apocalyptic images and WWW 3 threats give me nightmares ~ Good story to share Kim ~

    Our spring buds are blooming, tiny progress which I am very happy to see. Love your photo ~

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Your fears mirror mine, Kim. It’s not a mystery that we have the fears and anxieties that we do although I feel much relief from mine these days. Thanks for sharing…not always so easy to do. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  6. KIm, the not being able to shut off your brain to sleep is rather universal I think, especially now. I worry and fear about violence, war, poverty, depression, homelessness, etc. And some of these fears are well out of my reach. Hopefully. But now? The world has changed and is a very violent place in many parts…and these thoughts are again fermenting in my brain and I can’t sleep a full night. How do we turn off the world for our own health? Not possible but I am glad you are in a place where it is London, etc…and the fear is daily. Bless you, Kim.


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