Avoiding the Circus of Fear

UPDATE: I wrote this poem following a harrowing period in my life during the latter days of the Stephen Harper regime, when he appointed Steven Blaney as his Minister of Public Safety. Photos of the man expostulating in Parliament were shocking: Blaney looked like a rabid demon foaming at the mouth. I was used to hearing such inflammatory rhetoric from American politicians but coming from a Canadian minister of government it was deeply jarring. I was shocked that our country might be following the path to perdition laid down by our disintegrating neighbours to the south.

Then one night I had an epiphany: if these men are so terrified of the world they feel the need to cage us in an ever tightening ring of security and surveillance, then they are truly to be pitied. Why should I fear them? They’re actually quite pathetic creatures. Thankfully with the election of Justin Trudeau’s Liberals, Canada has veered away from the abyss the United States and other countries seem to be plunging headlong into. For now. However, the old saying is true: “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”

What I learned from my Long Night of Fear under Harper is that it’s as essential to manage one’s own fear as it is to monitor those who cultivate it to their own ends. Once we can do that we can’t be manipulated nearly so easily.  It’s an especially important lesson as we watch the chaos unfolding in Turkey, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere in the world. Put simply: Don’t get sucked into the Circus of Fear.

Artwork created in 2015 to accompany the poem. ©2015 Sean Arthur Joyce

Artwork created in 2015 to accompany the poem. ©2015 Sean Arthur Joyce

Exorcising Demons

I saw you on TV—tongue

flicking fear

into our bones.

Haggard as a demon

on a three-day bender.

Bald as a bullet

biting the air

for its target,

halo of knives glinting

in oily light.

Your skin long abandoned

by touch, the leap

in the breast

all but forgotten.


Collars wrap serpentine

around your neck,

and everywhere you go,

you look over your shoulder,

listen for grit

beneath a boot.

And no matter

how many minds

you tie in knots,

they need only relax

to escape. After all,

the dead can sing

through anything.

While the armour

closes over your body,

they dance naked

in the streets.


Why should I fear you?

Your eyes are dark moths

beating weakly

against a screen—


for incandescence.


©2015 Sean Arthur Joyce

About seanarthurjoyce

I am a poet, journalist and author with a strong commitment to the environment and social justice. If anything, I have too many interests and too little time in a day to pursue them all. Film, poetry, literature, music, mythology, and history probably top the list. My musical interests lie firmly in rock and blues with a smattering of folk and world music. I consider myself lucky to have lived during the great flowering of modern rock music during its Golden Age in the late 1960s/early '70s. In poetry my major inspirations are Dylan Thomas, Rilke, Neruda and the early 20th century British/American poets: Auden, Eliot, Cummings. My preferred cinema includes the great French auteurs, Kirosawa, Orson Welles, and Film Noir. My preferred social causes are too numerous to mention but include banning GMOs, eliminating poverty (ha-ha), and a sane approach to forest conservation and resource extraction. Wish me—wish us all—luck on that one!
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1 Response to Avoiding the Circus of Fear

  1. Lulu says:

    I had to comment as I was surprised to see such important detail pertaining to the constant fueling of fear in our society. Thank you again for an excellent article.
    By understanding the reasons and techniques of control as well as their historic repercussions, the understanding of fear should mellow their effects. . The Romans already learned from the Pharaohs the Tacitus of control by fear. This should empower people to develop natural critical thinking as it has done for me since I was a child. Comparative logical thinking as to the outcomes of our inventions and technological achievements. Since no real progress on larger issues has been made it should be clear that deliberate downplay for real progress has been applied. The result of this house of cards is now the pushing of an artificially created thread of terrorism and now the five to midnight to WW3. May god assist Putin 1952, star sign Dragon, to preserve the sovereignty of Russia. ( Dragon is known to speak out the truth ). If this is the methods used by the elite to control via fear then it should also be understood that these people are not very sophisticated nor very educated. It is some kind of primitive game that one would find among crack cocaine addicts in gangs here in RSA. Why fear something which is beneath you?
    Knowledge is the only real power as it brings forth the intellect, our biggest defense in war against fear. Remember the movie Logen’s Run ? Watch it, as this is exactly where they want us. This statement I made when I was just 17 years old. Nobody told me anything, all came by logical thinking and knowing history. Problem then was that nobody was able to follow me there. It is up to each person to realize that this system is just a very badly managed one and must be totally overhauled to be taken seriously.

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