Deep-set deep blue
sees the past-life detritus
of this wordyahtzee
kamakaze neo-artsy
taketwo tumbleweed.

Deep-set deep blue
sees he’ll make good
for a brood of his blood,
upturning callous rocks


Breath will come easier,
death will seem further,
wan feet will root to earth;
the dearth of joie de vivre
put in

Deep-set deep blue
sees a man emancipated
from the     slew of     self.


Atelophobia n. (from the Greek: ατελής, atelès, “imperfect, incomplete” and φόβος, phóbos, “fear”) is the fear of not being good enough, or imperfection.

About Luke Prater

I am thirty-five, and live in England. They say a picture paints a thousand words, but I'd argue the opposite.
This entry was posted in Autobiography, Luke Prater, Poetry and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Atelophobia

  1. Yousei Hime says:

    Not just men, my friend. I didn’t realize this fear had a name, though I shouldn’t be surprised. Funny how you can know of something so long, converse and debate with it, hate it and of course, fear it, all without a name. I actually like the name too. Oooo, I’m destined for trouble. ;) Purgatory seems the perfect place for those so burdened.

    • Luke Prater says:

      Thanks T… I was referring to this man specifically, not to men (as opposed to women) — and also to human beings as part of our Human Condition. What I hope to put into purgatory (I think this part is ambiguous, I may have to revise it) is the ‘dearth of joie de vivre’ in learning to live with and love my imperfections. Thanks xx

  2. Dark Angel says:

    Great word! Great poem. I especially like the first stanza. “wordyahtzee
    kamikaze neo-artsy” that’s just too fun to say. :) I love how you bend words to your will.

  3. I saw one day that imperfections are real…perfection is an illusion…delusion
    I do stumble still on that “atelophobia”
    also I didn’t know the word….
    a very good thought…read I always learn as well as enjoy when I visit….
    Thank you…
    Take Care…

  4. ayala says:

    So many feel this, a good capture. We must love ourselves and our imperfections.

  5. janehewey says:

    finding ourselves “good enough”, as seen through another’s eyes, is a beautiful statement of self compassion. poetically, I enjoy your progression inc. past lives, youth wild, blood father, and death further away than earth. a wonderful poem.

  6. Oh my! “Slew” is an excellent word! You’re saying you’re killing/slaying your self. But underlying is the other meaning: that you have a slew of selves (that must all be destroyed). Brilliant! And so effective to add extra white space around the phrase to force us to consider what you might mean. Fantastic. Really, just so great. I think the white space also implies that you put a lot of space around yourself and between you and other people. This is to protect you, and this is to protect them. In essence, because you are not good enough. You will hurt people. And you will hurt yourself. It is all your fault. I’m not agreeing with you, about you, of course. I just know the feelings well.

    I love the way you describe your eyes: deep-set, and deep-blue. Obviously you’re trying to point out that all your troubles begin with your depth of intellect and soul. It makes you feel alone and misunderstood. It also makes you “see” more than other people. Even about yourself, even if it may be skewed. You are more insightful than other people.

    “this wordyahtzee
    kamakaze neo-artsy
    taketwo tumbleweed” … This is you, brother. And me. I love it. :) We’re always “starting over,” in our own heads, at least. Trying to straighten ourselves out. Be “right.” Be self-controlled and “good enough.”

    “he’ll make good
    for a brood of his blood” … Trying to prove yourself to your family. It’s not really for you that you want to change or “improve.” It’s for those others, so close, so caring and loving, who want the “best” for you … and the best from you.

    This is my favorite part:
    “upturning callous rocks
    closeted” … I LOVE that indentation. It’s so effective at centering the poem right here. You’re turning them over to display the smooth sides (of your self), while hiding the rough edges. When you say you’re upturning them, you may be saying you’re ready to show/share the roughness, to offer what you’ve been hiding. Or you may be saying you’ll keep it hidden to protect your family. Or maybe “upturning callous rocks” means you’re ready to deal with your issues and problems, but in the closet. Like, in therapy. Privately somehow. So as not to hurt anyone. Especially yourself.

    “Breath will come easier,
    death will seem further” … This part to me speaks of meditation, perspective, relief, release. Also, when you talk about death seeming further, it might be that death in your life has caused you traumatic pain and it’s always close at hand. But through therapy (or whatever form of treatment you’re seeking), you will be able to put some distance between yourself and the pain. Another possibility is that you walk around feeling suicidal a lot of the time, as if your death is near. But you want to change those feelings, to push death away.

    Then you go on to say that in your weakness, your sadness, you will go ahead and plant your gypsy self — even though it goes against your nature.

    I love what you did here with this line break:
    “the dearth of joie de vivre
    put in … As if you are planting you “lack of exhilaration” along with your unhappy feet. You are clearly miserable about having to turn yourself into something other than what is natural for you. But you’re not going to fight it because you love your family and you care about being “good enough.”

    What an ending! The way you’re twisting the meaning with each line. Planting yourself will set you free. But not really. Maybe it will free you from all your selves. Maybe it will free you from having to kill all your selves. Or maybe it will literally save you from killing yourself — your physical body. Man, you’re just trying to figure out how on earth (literally) you can save your body and mind. You’re going crazy, you’re miserable and depressed. Something’s got to give; something’s got to change. You’re looking for answers, big time.

    Love it. Totally identify. You splayed open your heart with this, brother. Incredible. Who can’t relate to this?! Especially a bunch of poets! Thank you. It was an honor to read this.

  7. Jack says:

    Yeah, this is friggin’ amazing. My favorite part was quoted earlier, but:

    “of this wordyahtzee
    kamakaze neo-artsy
    taketwo tumbleweed”

    should get another mention.

    Powerful consonant punches followed, I always enjoy your focus on sound-craft. I also learned a new word, which is a good time, all the time.

  8. brian miller says:

    what an interesting condition…the need to find ourselves good enough…to measure up…and yet i think that many fit that mold…have bought the lie they arent…comparison is a bitch you know….wicked flow to your words bro…just coming back online after 9 days away…but i saved this in the inbox to come back to…

  9. Christi Moon says:

    gaze through leaded glass. . heavy with waves and stains.
    marvel at how exquisitely it bends the Light
    refracts in prisms of rare and precious Beauty.

    held steady
    in colours
    I never knew existed

    all I see
    is you

  10. Luke Prater says:

    Thanks all for your wonderful comments

comments welcome, crit encouraged