The Obsession of Emily Rose

(A Cautionary Tale)

Emily-May Matilda Rose, from the age of three,
Acquired the habit of picking her nose wherever she might be.
Though otherwise a child of whom her parents could be proud,
Her nasal explorations drew a captivated crowd.

Passing folks would stop and stare at Emily-May and chuckle,
To see her fingers disappear beyond the second knuckle.
While brutally intent was she upon the task at hand,
Her parents failed to discipline with timely reprimand.

People came from far and near, from Hope to Eagleridge,
To see young Emily’s brave attempt to reach beyond the bridge.
And through the days and weeks and months her troubled parents chose,
To overlook the habits of their darling Emily Rose.

Whenever she would poke and prod in search of nasal treasures,
Mum and dad would spare the rod, avoiding drastic measures.
Both meek and mild, they reconciled and plain forbade her tutor,
To lecture on the pitfalls of the poking of her hooter.

Despite the fact her tiny nose was swollen, red and sore,
Emily-May Matilda Rose continued to explore.
Her fascination knew no bounds, she even used her toes,
To extricate for study all the contents of her nose.

Such habits were embarrassing to all without a doubt,
But Emily was addicted to the probing of her snout,
So mum and dad decided to vacation for a week,
From neighbor’s constant whispers of her violated beak.

And so the threesome went away to spend a week in Reno,
Her parents looking forward to good times in the casino.
While dad arranged their rooms and mother wandered through the lobby,
Emily-May enjoyed her extraordinary hobby.

But even in this far-off place her folks could not escape,
The looks of pure amazement at this shocking nasal rape.
And all across Nevada glitzy shows could not compete,
As people threw ten dollar bills around the Rose’s feet.

The years passed by and sadly Emily-May Matilda Rose,
Continued the improper penetration of her nose.
Unable to resist the urge, she spent her life alone,
Contentedly devoted to her tender nasal zone.

Inevitably, a tragedy befell poor Emily-May.
Her total lack of self-control had brought about this day.
Her parents failed to discipline, to guide or interpose,
From poking sin, her head caved in!
…The end of Emily Rose.



Norma Pain was born in Liverpool, England and now lives in Parksville, British Columbia, Canada. Thirty of Norma’s poems were published by Dana Literary Society, between 2004 and 2007 and she was twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize by that same on-line poetry site. She self-published a book of rhyme in 2000 called Bulging Assets.

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28 Responses

  1. jd

    I, too, was surprised by the many creative ways to
    describe the situation & wondered how this obsession would resolve itself. A good cautionary tale for
    children so inclined.

    • Norma Pain

      It took me a little while to come up with the ‘head implosion’ ending but I think it works! Thanks jd.

  2. Russel Winick

    Funny but serious. I’m glad that Evan picked this one.

  3. Paul Freeman

    Norma Pain is number one, I’m saying this because
    who else could write so well about a violated schnoz.

    Thanks for the hilarious read, Norma.

    • Norma Pain

      Thank you Paul, for your lovely comment. Too bad I didn’t think to include the word ‘schnoz’. I missed that one.

      • Paul Freeman

        How about ‘boko’? My grandad used that one (he got punched on the boko boxing and could never smell anything again), but it seems to have gone out of use.

      • Norma Pain

        I have never heard of boko but I like ‘nib’.

    • Norma Pain

      So happy to take you back Wayne. Thank you for commenting.

  4. Joseph S. Salemi

    A really great (and funny) poem! It reminds me of the poem “Maria” in Hilaire Belloc’s collection “Cautionary Verses,” where a little girl’s features become permanently distorted as a result of her making ugly faces at people. Her life is ruined as a consequence.

    I have always loved the Rockwell painting of “The Young Lady with the Shiner.” It tells a full story without words: a tough little girl has just beaten the tar out of one of her enemies, is profoundly satisfied with herself, and doesn’t give a damn about what the school’s Principal may say. More power to her!

    • Norma Pain

      Thank you for your comments Joseph. I agree, the Norman Rockwell painting provided by Evan is a superb depiction of how I wish I could have been as a child. Oh well, I’m a lot tougher now. And I must check out Hilaire Belloc’s cautionary verses. Thanks for this.

  5. Brian Yapko

    This is utterly hilarious, Norma! It is a rare poetic brilliance that was able to come up with so many variations on the theme of nasal obsession let alone make the work both engaging and interesting through ten stanzas! Well done!

    • Norma Pain

      Thank you very much Brian. I am so glad that you enjoyed my creation. I think they call this type of stuff…. grossology! Definitely not a classic, so thank you to Evan for including it on this website.

  6. Cheryl Corey

    This one had me laughing out aloud; but also reminded me of a boy in my high school class whose nickname was – you guessed it – “Booger”. Yuk.

    • Norma Pain

      That is very funny Cheryl. The poor child with the nickname Booger. I don’t suppose he thought it funny though. Thank you for your comments.

  7. Jeff Eardley

    Absolutely brilliant Norma. I was reminded of a poem which went something like…
    There’s a place up your nose where a snot garden grows,
    And a nail on your finger to find it.
    But if having a pick makes you feel a bit sick,
    Just remember that nature designed it.
    Thank you for a rip-snorting laugh today.

    • Norma Pain

      Thank you Jeff. I really appreciate the snot garden rhyme which is hilarious. It is rip-snorting too.

  8. Wayne


    • Norma Pain

      Yikes! Very good advice Wayne. You never know what you might discover under the tabletop. Thank you for your very humorous, anonymous quote.

  9. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Norma, Hilaire Belloc is a favorite of mine and I have written many a poem to his tune. This poem soars to Hilaire Belloc heights and beyond… my sides are aching with laughter and the poet in me is reaching out to shake your hand and to tell you to keep doing what you’re doing… it’s what the world needs right here, right now, and it’s a magnificent cure to all political ills! Thank you, my talented friend in fine poetry.

    • Norma Pain

      Thank you Susan. I am rather overwhelmed by your most generous comments. I am so glad my poem made you laugh and you are so right that we need to have a good old giggle now and then to lighten up these worrying times.

    • Joseph S. Salemi

      Susan, I also love Belloc’s work (both prose and poetry). His command of the language is utterly flawless; his comic touch is unfailing; and his satire can be as hot as lava.

      He was of French descent, and very proud of it — but as a British subject he was as fiercely English as Stilton cheese, Pimm’s Cup, fish and chips, and Imperial Stout.


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