Here is the torment only the scorned       heart knows:
One side withers.          The other grows,       and grows.


This little poem comes from my forthcoming book, “Interrobang,” which is comprised almost solely of formal poems based on clinical phobias and philias. Though the book’s obsessive fears and loves are mostly terribly strange ones (the obsessive love of snow, of entities that falsely represent sentient beings, of radical deviation and the obsessive fear of the immobility of a joint, of clouds, of foreign languages), some are more common, rooted in the collective drives and horrors that constitute the human condition. Asymmetriphobia is the clinical fear of asymmetrical things; a familiar enough condition among those who are OCD and general neat freaks (and the odd fan of Danish modern furniture.) My intent, then, with this tiny couplet was to tease out the idea that asymmetry is difficult not just in terms of physical objects, but also emotional states. So many of us crave evenness, and are more harassed by our moment of instability, ambivalence and internal struggle than we’d like to admit. I tried to capture that in the voice of a person who loves wrongly–I imagine the speaker as someone still in love after being scorned, though it could just as easily apply to a person who both desires and detests an unlovable other. Anyway, these situations always suck. Beyond that, I definitely wanted the unevenness of the couplet’s metrical feet to bother actual asymmetriphobes. Which is pretty messed up, I guess. (Let’s hope not so messed up that I’m considered a panthophiliac, or lover of suffering.)


Jessica Piazza is currently a Ph.D. candidate in English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Southern California. Her first full-length collection of poetry, Interrobang, is forthcoming from Red Hen Press in 2013. You can learn more about her publications and work at www.jessicapiazza.com.

'The Night After He Says Her Name in Bed', Casey Thayer

'Found Poem', Muammar Gadaffi

'Recluse', Michael Shewmaker