Why I Bite My Fingernails

They grow without notice

slower than a glacier

until scratching

I slice my skin

and there they are

ten of them.

Uncut and undefined

til my teeth rip them apart

tearing at natural progression

with the aggression of neurosis

to chew them into a bloody pulp

knowing when I’m through

I’ll have nothing left to do

but wait for them to grow again.

But for now I peel at my soul like an orange

with jagged fingernails

tearing into the fruit of its pain.

They say

(and you know what they say about they)

those who bite their fingernails right down to their pulpy flesh

have a higher pain threshold.

I’m here now and remind me why

I fight pain with pain?


4 thoughts on “Why I Bite My Fingernails

  1. granbee

    Peter, maybe you started biting your fingernails when the other kids at school taunted you about your ears? I have a friend who bites her nails compulsively, gets a manicure with false nails, then says she wakes hereself up tearing off the false nails. OUCH! A LOT of other pain would be forgotten like that! My husband bites his nails a little bit, but only when I persist in regaling him chapter and verse with my latest story notions while he is trying to listen to a favorite music video! See how fortunate you are!

    1. cottonbombs Post author

      Rose! I think a million different psychiatrists would come up with a million different reasons why I bite my nails. Biggest problem that stops me from stopping is that I don’t want to.


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