Friday, March 23, 2018


In the shower yesterday I had the serendipitous luck to hear this story about a couple of authors coming to the area who have had obsessive-compulsive disorder slither its way into their work, much as it has into mine. If you get a chance, please visit this link to the story. I'll definitely be checking out their books.

One topic they touched upon briefly that made me "hell yes"-out-loud was how common it is for people to say, "Oh I'm so OCD about" X or Y. This is something that makes me cringe on a regular basis, and not just because of the grammatical problems it creates. I don't want to be hypersensitive about it, but on the other hand it trivializes something that is anything but trivial for the people who live with it. So please, unless you honestly mean that your brain torments you with fears that prey on everything you care about most, and that X or Y are legitimate clinical tics that compel you to publically repeat often-humiliating behaviors that you wish you could stop doing like you wish you could keep breathing, please don't say you're "OCD" about it. #OCDIsNotAnAdjective

Anyway, I've been meaning to post some more sample poems to my site for a while, so I'm taking this as a nudge to share one on this topic today. First published by Open Minds Quarterly of Sudbury, Ontario, I hope you like it.

High Functioning

Mr. Hughes, or may I call you Howard?
I’m sure we know each other well enough, living
in the same disturbance as we do, albeit
at opposite ends of the century.  Me, obsessive, you
compulsive, and also the other way round.

We’re grifters, you and I
flashing a series of parlor tricks, one furtive tic
and then another. Artists of escape, slipping
out of handshakes, turns of doorknobs, disappearing
into the safe small sterility of hotel rooms
and other dark, yet shiny places. Even there our most delicious
cravings are coated in terror that drops
into our laps in the quiet late at night like a flat, ovoid
cockroach losing its grip as it crosses the ceiling. Infected?
Syphilitic movie starlets? MRSA creeping hot and silent
into the divot of another scab irresistibly gouged
by frantic fingers desperately digging for the clean, fresh
untainted flesh beneath the platelet crust of our own mortality?

We hold the world together with cellophane tape
and a ton of excuses. It’s a nonstop sideshow
trick, pulling a never ending rope, hand over hand,
even as the fibers fray apart. Knotting faster than the human eye
can see. The imperfect spaces terrify me, the same as you. The truth
we hide beneath forcibly-slowed breaths is that
we can never be sure. Are we hallucinating or are they blind?
It’s still unanswered, Hughsy, and we’re both held
captive by that question, in the same dark cell.
Our fears crossing hand over hand through time.