The Habit of Earl


Jennifer said that when her husband died
the hardest adjustment was breaking
the habit of Earl. Like the habit of smoking
even though you’ve been hypnotized to quit.

Not quite a thought. An impulse.
“Like if I smoked, I’d smoke right now,”
she said. Not a craving like the draw of smoke
but a familiar response.

Unplanned. Routine.
Like when you move to a new house
in a new neighborhood and your car
just keeps going down your old street.

Or when you travel to New York
for plays and shopping, reach for your phone,
nearly touch his number to tell him you’ve arrived.

It’s like reaching in your closet
for your favorite pair of jeans
but they’re gone
because you gave them to Good Will.

About the Author

Janice is a speech pathologist turned poet who lives in the Arizona desert and on a lake in Wisconsin. Her work can be seen in From the Depths, Gyroscope Review, Pasque Petals, The Remembered Arts Journal, The Heartland Review, and forthcoming in Without Words Anthology.


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  1. Great poem, my friend. Happy to see it in SPLASH.

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