Transformative, the mirror shows
a me I hardly recognize—an evil twin,
a raging doppelgänger. She-devil’s eyes
glow like fired glass. What’s got me so unstrung?Boom box? Or car door slammed against the silence that’s my one safe space? I run inside;
but the cave still echoes with a world I must
find my way back to, call and response
spiraling through time
and urging me to follow. It might have been
a dark conspiracy that set these walls
to ringing. Or I might have missed
a pleasant strain. It might
have been someone singing.
Jane Marston lives in Athens, Georgia, where she has spent many months learning to live with Misophonia, an OCD spectrum disorder marked by a dysfunctional response to certain sounds. In prior years, she has published poetry in journals including Southern Humanities Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Blood & Fire Review, and Crucible.
Eight AM. Tuesday September 15, 2020. The Center for Disease Control reports a total of 6,537,627 United States cases and 194,092 deaths.
Phoenix, Arizona. Parked at an outdoor mall, I get out of my car, grab a mask from the backseat, and stuff it in my handbag.
A few cars dot the parking lot. I scan the sidewalks for people. None.
No need to put on the mask.
Standing beside concrete fountain, I take 10 second videos of flowers smoldering in the breeze.
I see him in my lens. He is not wearing a mask.
My hands shake and heart thumps.
Deep, slow, breaths. Exhale. A,b,c,d…
Saying the alphabet is my coping strategy.
I toss the cell phone in my bag, grab my mask, and put it on.
Does he have COVID? Is he a carrier?
A sneeze in my direction could spread millions of his microorganisms and infect me.
Instead, I turn and walk to my car.
Diagnosed as an adult with Obsessive Compulsive and Anxiety Disorders I learned to manage my symptoms.
I pay attention to the signs: sweating, dizziness, and rapid heartbeat. I have retrained myself to breathe.
Relentless worries about health, illness, and dying are my triggers.
Taking prescribed anti-anxiety medication helps to quell these symptoms.
September 5, 2020, Action 6 News Philadelphia reports, “US Surgeon General Dr. Adams advises the states to be ready on November 1, 2020 to distribute a COVID vaccine, just in case.”
Pressure from the White House to vaccinate America before the November 3rd elections terrorizes me. It takes years of patient trials for a vaccine to be safe for the public.
Nightmares of government mandated injections plague my dreams.
My peer led mental health support groups stopped meeting in-person months ago.
I have tried Zoom meetings and stopped. I miss the face–to-face contact.
Masks are mandated in town. My friends are going out to restaurants.
Lonely and sad, I want to go out, too.
Sunday September 6, 2020. I leave home At 7 AM for Wal–Mart. There will not be too many people there.
Deep, slow, breaths. Exhale. A,b,c,d,e…
Masks required, I put on two pairs of gloves, and a mask.
Inside I spend time avoiding others and locating items.
I turn away to avoid facing anyone nearby.
Hearing someone sneeze behind me, I cringe.
The store is out of the cleaning products I want. I grab some hand sanitizers and two boxes of gloves.
I pay with a credit card at a kiosk. No need to use a possibly infected stylus to sign my name.
Grabbing my bag, I leave the store, exhausted.
I stop by a park to destress. I get out to stretch my clenched neck, spine, legs, and arms.
Watching a few horseback riders circle the area and boys playing with a Frisbee, this day seems normal.
It is not. COVID has not, “Gone away like a miracle,” as President Trump said.
I get into my car, go home, and take a nap.
Marilyn June Janson was diagnosed with OCD and Anxiety Disorders at age 21. She manages her symptoms and triggers with prescribed and monitored anti-anxiety and depression medication. Ms. Janson is a small business owner and instructor living in Arizona with her husband Ed and Bella Rose, a cat.
A string Between three falling Anchors Is the day unmedicated.
Hours tick deeper Ticking into night’s submergence of stars Becoming a plastic bag Around my child head An utter terror of Tomorrow’s triggered Sky fall: cement The busy blood The clock of walking people Walking too fast.
I flip the light switch Eleven times before bed Every night or else.
Coleman Bomar is a writer who currently resides in Middle Tennessee. His works have been featured by and/or are forthcoming in Drunk Monkeys, Plum Tree Tavern, Prometheus Dreaming, SOFTBLOW, Eunoia Review, Beyond Words, Bewildering Stories, Isacoustic, Moonpark Review, Maudlin House, Star 82 Review, Boston Literary Magazine, Cathexis Northwest, Nine Muses Poetry and more.
Nathan Dennis is a playwright and poet of Floridian extraction. He is the Vintner-in-Chief of Wine Cellar Press, a poetry press dedicated to free and formal verse in equal measure. He is a graduate of NYU Tisch Department of Dramatic Writing. His work has appeared in Anti-Heroin Chic, The Cabinet of Heed, Neologism Review, Crepe & Penn, Rat’s Ass Review, and Unscooped Bagel. His most recent play, Circle of Shit, was produced at Dixon Place in March, 2019.