Two Poems by Patrick Ryan Frank

Patrick Ryan Frank

THALASSOPHOBIA

—The fear of the ocean.

That there are depths you cannot know
and you could sink forever,
the water below

opening only to other water,
unlit undertow,
movement, tighter

circling shapes surrounding you,
all unknown edge and bitter
hunger, tooth

or tentacle or fin, all black
approaching through the blue,
the clinching wrack

of struggle, the final giving up
to the pressure and the dark,
that patient grip,

panic burnt down to a dull
and thoughtless ache, the slip
into the pull

of nowhere, bearing no hate, no wrath,
holding nothing at all,
not even your breath.

NYCTOPHOBIA

—The fear of night or darkness.

I’ll stay awake, stay up all night,
Keep wide my eyes and cocked my ears;
I’ll keep the whole damn room within my sight,
The phone in my left hand, a gun in my right;
I’ll lock up the doors and windows tight,
Let no one, nothing get in here
Until the shadows disappear,
Until the morning brings a light,
Until I can see what I should fear.

from Rattle #26, Winter 2006

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Patrick Ryan Frank: “In my work, I’m interested in issues of control: how people master their fears, or else are mastered by them; how a poem’s movement can push against its structure; how meaning can determine shape. Essentially, life is composed of conflict and tension, and poetry is the art of struggling beautifully.”