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Anxious Compulsions

It tastes like chain-smoking a pack
of menthols from
a soft pack somebody already crushed
so half the tobacco is already gone and the filters ignite:
drifting smell of burning cotton
with Zippo lighter fluid becomes unwelcome cologne

I feel the toxic sting on my nostrils,
like the itching on my skin,
taste the imagined tobacco on my tongue, in my spit:
spit that’s trying to puddle around my tongue
to soothe my smoke-dry mouth
Even though I don’t smoke

Style / type: 
Free verse
Review Request (Intensity): 
I want the raw truth, feel free to knock me on my back
Review Request (Direction): 
What did you think of my title?
How was my language use?
What did you think of the rhythm or pattern or pacing?
How does this theme appeal to you?
How was the beginning/ending of the poem?
Is the internal logic consistent?
Last few words: 
Made a few changes from the suggestions. I suffer from dermatillomania and it had been bad at the time of writing this poem. The feeling seems akin to chain-smoking for someone who doesn't even enjoy smoking.
Editing stage: 

Comments

of your affliction. I remember how my mouth tasted and felt from my days of smoking and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. [Well, almost anyone]. A big title for your poem. It doesn't seem to fit the theme, because your illness isn't a compulsion is it? Nice to see you writing, ~ Gee.
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My skin picking is a compulsion that I cannot stop. It flairs up when my anxiety is bad, but even when I am not nervous I usually fixate on a bump or scar or existing boo boo and can't leave it alone. I don't want to do it but I can't make myself stop until it's bad. It is very embarrassing because sometimes I feel the compulsion to pick my face or bite my nails in public but it is viewed as a very unhygienic bad habit. Most people don't understand that it isn't a habit.

Will work on the title nonetheless! Thanks!
Kelsey

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author comment

basing my comments on your poem only. All I saw was the statements about the dry mouth and nasty tastes. I didn't realize that there is another component to your illness. ~ Gee.
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That makes perfect sense. If this poem was published somewhere it wouldn't have the comment attached, you know? So it isn't exactly clear. I was hoping the opening and closing lines of chain-smoking but not being a smoker would convey more, but maybe the idea needs to be reworked to be more direct.

Thanks again!!
Kels

Advocates Coordinator

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author comment

That dermatillomania has not one but two synonyms?
Autocarphologisation and flocculophobia. Fuckin' love English.
Love the poem too.
The content is excellent, and fairly elegantly expressed. Perhaps just a few more prosodic qualities would bring it up to your own very high standards. The word 'herbaceous' doesn't ring quite right in context, maybe a simple 'toxic' would do the trick, with the bonus of adding some consonance to the line with 'sting' and 'nostrils' and improving the meter.
Just a few small changes like that would make the poem worthy of destruction to an atelophobic, those who suffer from 'Kafka Syndrome'.

At the risk of making light of your very serious condition one of my own phobias nearly killed me once. I suffer from Arachibutyrophobia- fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth. I was stoned and a bit paranoid at a rock concert and the peanut butter sandwitch (spelling intentional) I ate accumulated on my palate near unto the point of asphyxiation. The projected headlines in the paper bothered me almost as much, "YOUTH DIES IN BIZARRE PEANUT BUTTER DRUG INDULGENCE- PARENTS SUE KRAFT"

cheers,
Jess
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I have a definite fear of suffocating/choking and the worst feeling is having dry bread stuck in my mouth/throat. I feel like I can't drink enough to wash it down. I have to have PB sammichs with milk because a cup of water/juice/soda will not wash it down well enough. My problem is that I love PB so much. American PB is very sweet compared to in over places and it is addicting, but I can't ever bring a PB sammich in my lunch because nowhere sells milk at school.

I don't know how people can have like choking sex fantasies. They gonna die!

Will work on some imagery and word choice ideas over the weekend if I can and I will get back to y'all.

PS: Google is not giving me any pertinent results for either of your symptom terms. Do I need to look in a psych manual or something like that?

Kelsey

Advocates Coordinator

Critique, don't comment. Neopoet is a workshop and is designed to share your poetry, receive and make critique of the work posted, and most importantly, for you to evolve as a poet.

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author comment

But based on two real words which are synonyms, carphology and floccillation-
noun, Pathology.
1. An aimless plucking at the bedclothes occurring especially in the delirium of a fever.

Sorry, I'm a bugger, I couldn't resist it. That those two words exist for that meaning is fairly remarkable.

The arachibutyrophobia is real and yes milk is the only thing that does the job.

cheers,
Jess
A new incentive for critique, description at
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The definition sounds like something the Victorians came up with for their reaction to all their arsenic wallpaper and cocaine soda and opium cough syrup. Just saying.

Advocates Coordinator

Critique, don't comment. Neopoet is a workshop and is designed to share your poetry, receive and make critique of the work posted, and most importantly, for you to evolve as a poet.

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author comment

Reads very interesting and intriguing. But when I get to the notes, it's a whole other thing. Not being introduced to or knowing about dermatillomania, i assumed the poem was how just feeling anxious makes you feel, what anxiety tastes like. And as a poetic image that works as a poem.

But after I read the notes and comments and would like to suggest you title the poem as Dermatillomania, with a short explanation of what it is for most of us who are not aware of the condition. That is, if you want us to interpret the poem with that in mind, which I have to feel you do or wouldn't have mentioned it in the notes.
I am a very strong advocate of a poet giving the reader up front about little known facts or personal issues that cannot possibly be known or perceived from the text (if that is their goal, to share a specific something.) Otherwise I would have totally misinterpreted your work.

Eumolpus
I'd rather learn from one bird how to sing
than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance
ee cummings

Thanks so much for the suggestions. The dermatillomania is just one facet of my anxiety problems. This poem could absolutely apply to a lot of different mental conditions related to anxiety or stress, so please don't worry about misinterpretation!

I noted in the last word section that I feel dissatisfied with the poem. One thing is that I feel like it is an angst-y, whiny poem. I feel like it's not really doing anything useful for other people who experience mental illness. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it may help people who don't deal with mental illness understand a little more, which could inadvertently help people with mental illness because the "normal" people around them could have more compassion and less stigma. Maybe not.

I don't like to write poems that have one right or wrong interpretation. If there is a message here that resonates with you in some meaningful way, then I've succeeded, in my opinion. That's the only reason I didn't define dermatillomania. It's not about me divulging to y'all that I use way too many bandaids and way too much antibiotic ointment because I can't stop scratching and picking my own skin, hair, and nails. It's because I want anyone whose ever felt like they weren't in control of their own emotions or thoughts to know that I feel that way too and they aren't alone.

I hope this answer helps.

Thank you for taking the time for this honest comment. I know this isn't any easy topic to discuss.

Take care,
Kelsey

Advocates Coordinator

Critique, don't comment. Neopoet is a workshop and is designed to share your poetry, receive and make critique of the work posted, and most importantly, for you to evolve as a poet.

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author comment

and it does help. You know how understood and less alone you feel when someone expresses exactly how you feel.

For us BPDs the catchphrase is "It seemed like a good idea at the time", but I'm also no stranger to anxiety, at times I'm chased up the walls by the need to make unknown things better, whilst afraid to leave the house in case of a public panic attack.

cheers,
Jess
A new incentive for critique, description at
https://www.neopoet.com/community/news/proposal-encouraging-critiquescom...
discussion at
https://www.neopoet.com/forum/23390

Well done !! I could smell and taste it. Seriously good stuff hon
So nice to be reading everyone again

Love J xxx

("Always and Forever") - (Never lose a holy curiosity.-Albert Einstein)

Thanks so much for being here!

Advocates Coordinator

Critique, don't comment. Neopoet is a workshop and is designed to share your poetry, receive and make critique of the work posted, and most importantly, for you to evolve as a poet.

www.kelsey-burroughs.weebly.com

author comment

Sorry to read about your illness. But i bow to your courage that you expressed this in your poetry. Love Roscoe..

Roscoe Llane,

Religion will rip your faith off, and return
for the mask of disbelief that's left.

Thanks for taking the time to read. No need to apologize, though! I was born severely premature and have always been sickly. I'm used to it all. Meanwhile, my twin brother's as big and strong as an ox and never had any health problems. That jerk.

Thank you so much for the kind affirmations,
Kelsey

Advocates Coordinator

Critique, don't comment. Neopoet is a workshop and is designed to share your poetry, receive and make critique of the work posted, and most importantly, for you to evolve as a poet.

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author comment

Thanks for stopping by. My parents, brother, and many other family members smoke. I never did, but even to this day my clothes smell like it and I find nicotine stains on clothes that have hung in the closet for too long. It doesn't bother me too much until I go somewhere where there aren't a lot of smokers around or no smoking inside (all public places in NC now, by law). That's when I can smell it on all of us. It doesn't seem to bother them, but always embarrassed me.

My mom has actually finally quit and it seems like for good. She quit while she was pregnant with my brother and I, so over 24 years ago. Then quit again for a few months following a major surgery. About two years ago she switched to an e-cig and slowly worked herself down to no nicotine in it, just basically flavoring. Eventually she got to the point she just mostly wanted something to hold. Then she just kept it in her purse. Even if she didn't use it all day, as long as it was there and she knew it was there she was okay. As soon as she misplaced it, she got the intense cravings and stressed about having it. Now it stays in her bedside table and she doesn't use it or carry it at all.

She is 56 and smoked since she was about 10 (very common for rural North Carolina because tobacco has long been one of our biggest agricultural products). So over forty years of smoking and she quit. Dad is in the same boat (started as a literal child) but won't make the switch because he can't find a flavor that suits him, which just seems like a lousy excuse to me. Brother didn't start until after he was already grown. Don't know why he picked it up after a lifetime of our parent's begging us to never start.

I am going to give myself a few days without looking at the poem to try to come back to it with fresh eyes.

Kelsey

Advocates Coordinator

Critique, don't comment. Neopoet is a workshop and is designed to share your poetry, receive and make critique of the work posted, and most importantly, for you to evolve as a poet.

www.kelsey-burroughs.weebly.com

author comment

nice having you back
looking forward to more of your poems

always remember to make a critique of other poems
using the hoe is not madness for nothing

All newcomers on the site should read this, clicking on the 'Revisions' tab to see the differences. Similarly with Stan's latest revision, "Day Dreaming". Small changes, .
https://www..com/workshop/poems/day-dreaming
This is what is all about. I suspect some newcomers are afraid they'll have to write the whole thing again from scratch. You and others like Stan really grow the value of this site.

Onya Kelsey. the swamp witch from who
lame poets in terror fairly flew,
not seeing the enchantment
of caring enhancement
some of them had a big spew.

Not many, the kindness and intelligence of your feedback disarms all but the most arrogant self-described perfect poet geniuses.

cheers,
Jess
A new incentive for critique, description at
https://www.neopoet.com/community/news/proposal-encouraging-critiquescom...
discussion at
https://www.neopoet.com/forum/23390

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