Poetry of the Times
This pile of poems weighs more than a pound,
seven years squeezed into narrow columns
displayed against a background of pink or gray,
my thumbnail photo in the corner, a graphic
of a quill pen, the scientific articles just aquarter
inch away, poetic with their liquid L's of Luvox,
Lithobid, and Late Life Depression, their rhymes
of Adderall, Risperdal, and Carbatrol, theentire
A-Z of American Psychiatry--AA, Alzheimer's,
benzodiazepines, chemical dependence, death
and depression, ECT, firesetting,geriatrics,
homicide, intelligence, juries, killers, lust,
managed care, nootropics,Osler, psychoanalysis, Remeron,Schizophrenia,
Trileptal, universal health care, Vivactil,
washing rituals, Xanax, yohimbine, Zyprexa.
Have poems ever kept such company,
bewildering as Psychiatry itself,
our theories as imaginary as poetry,
sloppier than a bourbon-soaked kiss,
narrow as a hairline crack in porcelain.
We are confused, hungry, crying out for love
from our patients and colleagues with a hoarse
raven-call, insistent, demanding to be heard
like wind pounding on a solid oak door.
Dr. Berlinis associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Dr. Berlin recently establishedthe Gerald F. Berlin Creative Writing Award at the University of MassachusettsMedical School, the only medical student creative writing prize in the UnitedStates.