“This Has Nothing to Do with Willpower” by Ted Jonathan

Ted Jonathan


to kill germs
after handling any doorknob
you need to scrub soapy hands
under scalding water until
the world is a doorknob and

to kill germs
you need to scrub soapy hands
under scalding water after
touching anything touched
by unwashed hands

clothes hanging in your closet
need to be perfectly aligned

legs of the kitchen table
need to rest on pin-pointed spots

visitors are an invasion
you must keep watch
recall what they contact
as soon as they leave
those things need to be
methodically sanitized
and/or put back in place

your heartbeat’s not right

constant loud static
of exact random sentences
or number sequences pound
ceaselessly in your head same
sentence same number sequence
no letup no room for anything else

you are the symptom

day-to-day living
a depleting charade

respites very rare even
then you’re nothing but scared
scared of your own mind
knowing torment’s always near
running dodging ducking
what’s not visible in the air

from Rattle #56, Summer 2017
Tribute to Poets with Mental Illness

[download audio]


Ted Jonathan: “Other than that they cause isolation, the OCD and PTSD symptoms described have nothing to do with poetry. I am, however, very pleased to give readers a taste of my experience bearing the burden of these two overlapping mental disorders.”

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