“12:32 p.m.” by Scott Strom

Scott Strom

12:32 P.M.

Paree fears her glacier 
bears are disinterested 
in the New Testament. 
So, she will translate 
into Bear, the good 
Word. She does 
not know how 
to conjugate 
past tense verbs. 
So, she will find 
a linguist who does. 
The few who do have 
spent so many days 
learning this they 
themselves are dis-
interested in God. So, 
desperate to save her
cubs’ little souls, Paree 
will translate, in present 
tense, verse by verse, the 
Word, and the furry ones 
will learn to think that 
Jesus is in Jerusalem 
now (!), and they 
will escape and 
be broken to 
get to the 
town before 
the end of the 
tale and find that 
Jesus is long in 
the ground.

They will
the faith,
those who 
can conjugate 
   verbs will co-
   llectively rate 
   her translation 
   a two—out (?)

from Rattle #71, Spring 2021
Tribute to Neurodiversity


Scott Strom: “I have obsessive compulsive disorder. Two types of OCD are portrayed en masse: contamination and symmetry/ordering. The other three (checking, intrusive thoughts, and hoarding) are left aside. I actively experience both checking and intrusive thoughts. In middle school, I feared that I would spontaneously shit my pants. So, I spent much of my time in the nurse’s office’s bathroom, attempting to ‘go’ so that I would not later in class. I also, in middle school, feared that I was gay. I would check and refute this by reminding myself of my interest in girls. I now know that this was an ineffective rebuttal, being in truth a bisexual man. Around the same time, I experienced the more publicly identifiable ‘contamination’ OCD. This was not because of a fear of contamination itself (as is often portrayed en masse), but because of a fear of contracting the flu and, particularly, throwing up. I washed my hands until my knuckles bled and ‘checked’ this fear by asking those around me, typically my mother, if my face looked pale. OCD is ingrained in my poetry, particularly in the matter of ‘choice.’ I am overwhelmed by choice, but I desire moving beyond reality—and anything can happen beyond reality. So I ground my poems in particular moments (thus the time signatures), particular shapes, and/or particular characters. OCD also informs the content within these structures. I have spent my entire life moving beyond my obsessions. When I am carried to the other side of an obsession, I am able to see how ridiculous that obsession was—I have therefore learned to view my actions, and sometimes the actions of others, through an absurdist lens. I have learned to distrust myself, therefore the speakers in my poems are not always to be trusted. And, in part as a way of grounding myself and in part on account of the intersection between my OCD and acne, I have learned to make the body grotesque, to portray the greatest dangers as those that come within.” (web)

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