Before I knew much psychiatry
I met his angry stare in the ER,
a homeless man with a three day beard,
shivering in a stained flannel shirt.
He could hear a tarantula scratch
inside my white coat pocket,
and knew I was the CIA agent
who broadcast his thoughts on the radio.
I don’t know how I convinced him
to swallow a dose of Stelazine,
or the way a few molecules changed
him from a man I feared might
strangle me to a guy I could imagine
dating my sister. And in time
he became my favorite patient,
though he never believed his diagnosis
or the need to take medication.
But he always asked for me in the ER,
joked about the way I still bugged him.
He died suddenly last week in a shelter,
no chance to say goodbye, a man who
couldn’t sense how hard he was falling,
no matter how often he hit the ground.