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Syndic Literary Journal

Social Justice ∼ “Fear as a Principle of Social Organization” by Chris Brandt

Fear as a Principle of Social Organization

by Chris Brandt


Fear nukes. 1953, duck, cover, crawl under

your desk, the same desk where you carve your name

and have to stay after school for a week, sanding it

by hand under the teacher’s icepick eye. Learn fear.


Fear father. When your father comes home…

Mommy, will daddy be in a good mood?

You understand why I must punish you? That this

hurts me more than you? Daddy please! Love fear.


Fear God. He sees you, knows when you cheat,

when you touch yourself, when you think

your dirty little thoughts about Susie, he’s

a bit like Santa Claus, only real, and he

can make you go to hell. Worship fear.


Fear acne. Fear wearing dumb shoes, cliques,

being left out, getting turned down

for dates, for a part in the play, being

the last one chosen for softball or soccer,

fear showing you care. Fear yourself.


Fear sex. Fear girls, fear women, fear boys.

Fear hairy palms, syphilis, wet dreams,

not knowing how to undo a bra, sweaty hands,

coming too soon, not coming. Fear desire.


Fear getting a job. Fear losing it. Not knowing

the right word, saying the wrong thing, gossip

and office intrigue, drug tests, the boss.

Fear candor, fear secrecy. Fear everyone.


Fear aging, fear skin growing slack, joints

getting stiff, eyes weak, desire limp, thought

thick, memory thin. Fear nothing

to do, fear loneliness. Fear


Narration by Chris Brandt


Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
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