Pulse will accept poetry submissions through December 31
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Maia Hoffenberg ~
Matthew Baer ~
Question: What is the most read book in a psychiatric ward?
Answer: Based on my observations, it's the Christian Bible. During my psychiatry rotation in the third year of medical school, I saw so many patients researching, reading and preaching the word of God. Clearly, in those pages they found something they needed: vengeance against those who'd wronged them, a secret prophecy, confirmation of their sanity. Or maybe they saw the central message: "You're loved. We (God, humans, nature, whatever) care for you and will take care of you. We understand you."
Seeing these patients cling to the Bible felt moving and deeply sad--painful, really. A younger, more innocent me might have seen some grace and faith. But, honestly, all I saw was emptiness--in the sense that patients in deep despair, who've been told, "Your mind is broken," "Your body is broken" or "You're going to die soon," lack something in their lives: real human connection.
Aarya Krishnan Rajalakshmi ~
Tonight was yet another night on call in our emergency department--a chilly winter night on which I did a cruel deed: I discharged a homeless man back out into the cold.
This is a routine event in the life of psychiatry residents like myself. Normally, no one would bat an eye. It shouldn't have mattered to me, either--except that the previous night I'd had to walk home from the hospital parking garage in decidedly adverse weather.
The streets were covered with slush and ice, which, along with the heavy rain and bitter winds, made my usually effortless fifteen-minute walk a nightmare. As wind gusts kept upturning my umbrella, I struggled to manage it while also trying to keep my feet from slipping on the ice.
Erika D. Walker ~
I stare at my chicken patty,
the limp lettuce, pale tomato
sliver, open the small
mayonnaise packet, even though
I don’t eat mayonnaise.
I pour my milk, set the carton
on the table, slide aside
the red Jell-O. If I don't look
up, I won’t be where I am.
Father wears a blue dress shirt,
not his own, stares,
not speaking, not noticing
the shirt is buttoned wrong,
brown stain on the front.
His hair stands straight up
and wild, blown by some private
windstorm. A woman alone
at the next table, tied