Favorite Patient

June 11, 2013
Richard M. Berlin, MD

Psychiatric Times, Vol 30 No 6, Volume 30, Issue 6

Before I knew much psychiatry I met his angry stare in the ER, a homeless man with a three day beard...

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.

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