Jacob Stratman

To Chronic Tic Disorder

(listen to the poem, read by the author)

This morning, I watched a robin hit a window
and land quickly on the concrete below, 

twitching without much movement
—its nervous system wrecked, spent,

and I remembered you, my chronic tic,
my restless shoulders head, and neck.  

When life was still, you could not be.
The doctor called you nervous energy—

something to run away, work out in gyms.
You arrived when stress was high or in 

the waning of late afternoons
while I attempted rest with a book.

Later I learned to hide you from stares
with neck rolls and longer hair.

With unnecessary stretches, I passed,
mostly, for a body in control, unless 

someone caught me relaxing,
reading in the library, watching 

TV, or daydreaming.  As a kid,
mom thought all I needed 

was a haircut. She didn’t realize
you were around.  Neither did I.  

When I first called you by name
in the locker room after a soccer game,

Buz didn’t hear well, asked quickly
what that shaking had to do with a dick.

Still, we’ve been together many years,
but now you’re not as willing, as eager 

and excited to be in the spotlight,
to attract attention, to be in sight.

I have stopped taking meds
made to hide you, made to make 

me normal; it is good not to fight
you anymore, not to seek even light

control over you.  I am not in the mood,
the business, really, to make you good,

make you disappear.  The bottle sits on a shelf—
a declaration not to try as hard to erase myself.  

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About the Author

Jacob Stratman’s first book of poems, What I Have I Offer With Two Hands, is a part of the Poiema Poetry Series (Cascade, 2019). His most recent poems can be found (or are forthcoming) in The Christian Century, Spoon River Poetry Review, Salt Hill, Bearings Online, Moria, and Ekstasis. He lives and teaches in Siloam Springs, AR.