Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Bad Habit

My mom used to tell me not
to bite my nails.  She’d say,
“That’s so gross.  Do something
more productive with your life.”

I couldn’t tell her that biting
my nails was the only thing
keeping the demons at bay.
We could not loose them on

an unsuspecting world. 
Did you ever spin your hair
on your finger?  It was a way
to keep from counting the

seconds. Counting the heartbeats
between breaths.  I used
to count the grout lines
between tiles on the kitchen floor.

I was so afraid of hiccups.
Spasms of the diaphragm sound
so unknowable, and it
was an excuse to hold my breath,

to lean upside down and
squeeze my eyes so only tiny
pinpricks of light shown through.
To gulp water as if I were

traveling through a desert.
Have you gone on pilgrimage?
What kind of sacrifice should
I offer my god of late?


  1. I like how you have captured the meaning behind so many nervous habits. It takes me back to my youth, when I did so many of these. I went right back in time with the line, "I used
    to count the grout lines
    between tiles on the kitchen floor."
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. I used to suck on my hair! Gross in retrospect! Love how you captured those images!