My Little Brother

Day 10 – this poem had to be about trying to do something whilst doing something else. This is about trying to do stuff whilst doing anxiety. It’s a bit inspired by the kids’ show Charlie and Lola.


I have a little brother called Fear and he is very loud. I have to take him everywhere with me all of the time. Because if I don’t take him he will scream, very loudly. Fear doesn’t want to do the things I want to do.

I want to get the train to go to work and Fear wants to stay at home and eat cereal in bed. Whilst I’m on the train Fear wants to get off at every stop. When people try to talk to me between stops about the weather Fear likes to sit on my knee and head-butt me in the chest with the back of his head. It’s hard to listen to people when he does that.

Sometimes when I want to go out for fun, Fear likes to come too. He hides behind me and plays peekaboo with beautiful things to see, like faces in trees. Sometimes he makes me put on all of my clothes then take them all off and put on my pyjamas and we go back to bed even though the curtains are see through with sunlight. On these days Fear sleeps on my chest, his hair warm and tufty with sweat whilst the day happens outside our breathing.

Fear is funny about food. There are lots of things he won’t eat. When I’m eating he tries to tell me that the things he can’t eat are hidden in the thing I am eating. He grabs at my knife and digs his tiny nails into my hand. He pulls at my lips and howls a snotty howl. By the time I calm him down I don’t want to eat.

I want to love people but Fear wants it to be just us. When I try to love people Fear gets louder and louder and louder until it’s just his rage in my mouth and I am saying ‘go away’ instead of ‘stay’. And the person I love says ‘why are you so mean?’ This happens a lot. Then Fear is sad because he only wanted them to see him.

Once someone I loved very much said they could see Fear, even though he’s very very small.

Author: Carmen Marcus

As the daughter of a Yorkshire Fisherman and Irish Mother, my writing brings together the visceral and the magical. My debut novel #How Saints Die was published with Harvill Secker in 2017. It won New Writing North's Northern Promise Award as a work in progress and was longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize in 2018. My poetry has been commissioned by BBC Radio, The Royal Festival Hall and Durham Book Festival. As a child of an 80s council estate I am an advocate for working class writers and stories. I’m currently working on my first poetry collection The Book of Godless Verse and my next novel. I try to live up to the words of my first critic and primary school teacher ‘weird minus one house point.’

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