OCD Poetry

That Could Have Been Someone Singing by Jane Marston

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.

OCD Prose

Breathe by Marilyn June Janson

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.

OCD Poetry

Everything Becomes Blinding by Coleman Bomar

A string
Between three falling
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. 

OCD Poetry

Eggwhites by Nathan Dennis

Isk isk isk isk rattle that whisk

        My mom says use the hand mixer

Isk isk isk isk isk isk isk isk 

        But I stiffen my peaks by hand.

Eggwhites, four is a good number

        To beat eggwhites in isks of eight,

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

        To unfold the proteins of thought

Is six, find two more, bowl and whisk

        To make meringues less intrusive:

Whisk count isk four isk isk to eight

        To bury eight custardy fears.

Isk repeat return to eight isk

        To hold, to eat, to own, to weep…

Isk isk isk isk isk isk isk isk 

The meringue weeps. It always weeps.

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.

OCD Poetry

O see the O Seeds Thee by Omer Wissman

Five is doom three a cure-all

Binging to obesity Charmed

Hate-watching Party of Five

And loving The Wire’s S1E5

Where in the dealers’ pager code

Five equaled zero and zero five

Coalesced into endless protecting

By numbers my 3 beloved nieces

As in always taking three pills

Of overdosage OCD medication


Omer Wissman, 36, multidisciplinary artist. Currently living on social security due to schizotypal disorder, drug resistant depression, and severe OCD.