Show of Force

Psychiatric TimesPsychiatric Times Vol 17 No 11
Volume 17
Issue 11

Show of Force - Poetry of the Times

Late at night, reason is weak medicine
when someone has left you.
He'd downed a few drinks, enough to loosen
the sharp edge of rage on his pulse.
With blood on his hands and fumes
on his breath, I couldn't convince him to stay.

Richard Selzer tangled with a wilder man
and sutured his ear to a leather gurney,
but being neither surgeon nor strong man
I tried warm words and hot coffee.

When he readied to bolt,
I syringed four milligrams of lorazepam
and called the troopers,
six men who hit
the door like heat from a burning barn,
and he wilted, curled, climbed on the cart
for a quiet ride to the locked unit.

Months later, forgotten,
I spot him down a hospital corridor.
He's in blue coveralls, me in my white coat.
When I get close, we both look away.


Read more of Dr. Berlin's work.

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