J. R. Solonche
Bio Note: Nominated for the National Book Award and twice-nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, I am the author of twenty-four books of poetry and coauthor of another. I live in the Hudson Valley.
Do you think that’s all the Sphinx said? What else do you think the Sphinx said? Do you think your guess is as good as mine? Do you think she said, “Whose head do you have?” Do you think she said, “Whose body do you have?” Do you think she said, “You look like a sand flea?” Do you think she said, “Yet you made me?” Do you think she said, “I felt your hammer and your chisel?” Do you think she said, “Do not think, however, that I am your slave?” Do you think she said, “You are my slaves, you who made me?” Do you think she said, “My greatest gift is my silence?” Do you think she said, “Be thankful?” Do you think this is a riddle? Do you think she said, “Be thankful?”
The Influence of Fifteen Anxieties
With Apologies to Harold Bloom
I cut myself shaving this morning. It took a long time for the bleeding to stop. I know it’s foolish, but for a moment, I thought I was going to bleed to death.
Every time I approach that intersection with the four stop signs, I get anxious. I know what to do. I worry that the other two or three drivers won’t, though.
I usually don’t have a problem flying, but the last time I flew to San Francisco I had an anxiety attack. That’s why I asked my doctor for a prescription for Ativan.
Last summer, a big tree next to the house came down during a severe thunder storm. It missed the house, but I still had two other trees cut down just in case.
I like to sit outside to write. I like to drink a bourbon cocktail while I write. However, yellow jackets also like bourbon cocktails. I’ve been stung more than once over the years, so they make me a little nervous.
A pair of barred owls have been nesting in the woods behind the house. Often I hear them calling to each other. I get very anxious when one fails to answer.
My daughter is a good driver. She’s never had an accident. Nevertheless, I worry when she goes to work. Especially if it’s raining or foggy. I tell her to take the Subaru Crosstrek. It has all-wheel drive and fog lights. I worry even more if she has to use that old Hyundai.
Going to the dentist used to make me anxious. It doesn’t anymore. I refuse the needle. The way I see it, a few minutes of pain is preferable to a few hours of numbness. And the pretty dental assistant thinks I’m really tough.
Although the economy is good and my portfolio is doing well, I’m still anxious about the markets. The experts on the radio predict a recession in the second or third quarter of 2020.
Power cutting tools make me nervous. When I go to a hardware store and see the circular saws and the chain saws, I sweat and my hands start to tremble.
When I was a kid, and even a teenager, getting a shot was an ordeal. I was so anxious, I fainted. I fainted from polio shots. I fainted from measles shots. I fainted from flu shots. I fainted from penicillin shots. My mother must have been disappointed. She knew then and there I’d never be a doctor.
Motorcycles scare me to death. I rode one once. I fell off. I wasn’t hurt because I was going about 15 miles per hour and fell on grass. Nevertheless, I’ll never get on one again. Not as long as I live. Like I said, those things scare me to death.
I used to enjoy bicycle riding. So much so that I purchased a $1200 state-of-the-art bike with a carbon fiber frame, disc brakes, and 20 speeds. It was great. I loved it. However, I was very apprehensive about riding it on the roads around here. A lot of people drove too fast. I was very nearly side-swiped a couple of times. I was so nervous about it, I donated it to charity.
I like hiking. We used to take hikes that lasted days. For example, on the Long Trail in Vermont. The woods of the northeast are black bear habitat. Because I was afraid of encountering a black bear, especially a mother with cubs, I would sing as I walked. My favorite song was “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” from Monty Python’s Life of Brian.
For several years, I sang with a chorus. It wasn’t professional, but they were good. Many members were trained singers and could sing on pitch, even when the conductor mixed up the sections during rehearsals. I was fine as long as I could hide in the middle of the bass section, but I was very apprehensive when it came to solos. I did manage to get through them but only with the help of bourbon just before the concert. If the altos smelled it on my breath, they never said.
©2021 J. R. Solonche
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