"All Day I Have Been Afraid" won the $1,000 Third Place in the 2002 Davoren Hanna International Poetry Competition.
Judge Billy Collins writes:
A very disquieting poem right from its title, “All Day I Have Been Afraid” is a journey through a Larkin-like cycle of depression. One unsettling image after another describes a toxic world where Nature with its sick sun and threatening moon offers no solace.
Judge Carol Ann Duffy writes:
Written in Unrhyming couplets which worry away at its subject of fear and anxiety like wringing hands, this poem is remarkable for its images of the sun and moon. The moon is a machete. The sun “grips the hills” like someone getting into a sickbed. The language is simple, perhaps consciously clipped, as it recounts the collage of worry and paranoia which makes up the poem.
All Day I Have Been Afraid
I heard Mrs. Lee scream Kill me! Kill me!
from inside her house and I did not move.
At noon, all the dogs in the neighborhood
began barking wildly. Was an unbearable truth
told in a pitch only they could hear?
The television said E. coli lurks
in my laundry and kitchen sponge, and toxic
waste has leaked into the drinking water.
A bright disc with many lights hovered
in the afternoon sky above the backyard fence.
A small child came to my door and asked
if I wanted to buy a chance—Yes! More chances!
I said, and took twenty. The sun, my once
cheerful companion, lowers herself
like a woman easing into her sickbed.
The August wind slowly prowls
the rooms. Bats start to swoop nooses
over my head. Now
the sharp moon appears, a bright machete
swung high in the evening sky.