One rarely spots psychiatrists on the subway
rubbing the haze of a long day's sessions
from their lean temples,
or thumbing through paperbacks that deal
Wouldn't they like an update on who's
In the world and how they're doing?
Or would the ridership be wary of men and women
whose briefcases rattle with the tic tac
of pills, whose ears perk
like armadillos' at conversations
two seats over?
More likely we locate them in a bad joke,
in a wing-chair beside a firm couch,
a suicide statistic, a product seminar
with deli sandwiches courtesy of Pfizer or Roche
or Eli Lilly;
perhaps on the beach of a convention hotel
with a panorama of thong-clad beauties
who seldom talk revealingly
Before bed a psychiatrist sets his ears
on the night-table
and prays for a night of long silence
from a god who prefers
Ron Charach was born in Winnipeg, Canada. He studied medicine in Toronto and trained in psychiatry in New York. He has lived in Toronto since 1980. The two poems are from Selected Portraits. Hamilton, Wolsak & Wynn Publishers. Another of Charach's poems was published in the September 2008 issue of the Journal.
Poem selected by Femi Oyebode.
- © 2009 Royal College of Psychiatrists