This is one of three poems that I submitted to the William Carlos Williams Poetry Competition back in 1983. Two of my poems were chosen for the final ten.  I ultimately placed third and was invited to attend a conference on The Humanities in Medicine where I was gave a 20 minute poetry reading. Poetry is meant to read aloud. To my eye and ear, a poem is a like a musical score that can only be fully realized by hearing it out loud – word choice is determined by the non-verbal sound of the syllables, with the progression of sound being crafted like a melody. The challenge is to try to achieve some sort of literal content and meaning. I also pay attention to rhythm, line breaks, and punctuation to help convey the musicality of language.





A wisp of smoke rises from the ashtray, arcing

in a glissando of pirouettes, fading upwards

into the brilliance of a single nude lightbulb, dangling

from a frayed cord. Record covers lay strewn among

discarded kleenex, empty reminders of the music

they once held. The records are stacked naked

next to the turntable, their mysterious grooves

exposed to dust as Subotnick mingles side

by side with Bach and Stravinsky.


Botticelli’s Venus is born over the crumpled sheets

of a stained mattress, a thumbtack

holding her against the wall. Bartok is spread open

across a music stand, his bare belly exposed

and scarred by the cut of a discerning pencil.

Nearby lies the violin, a 1738 Guadagnini

resting quietly in its rosin-scented case.


It is a scene that I view from within;

all boundaries are blurred between myself,

this room. Within this portamento of space,

the walls become my walls, my skin.

I can feel the night breeze brushing

across the shingles, I can sense

Venus and Saturn in conjunction

within the arc of a moon sliver

rising above the roof, way out there

where there are no walls, or windows

or doors. I often dream

of fading these walls, bending the flat planes into curves

that spread out, dissolving; until it is no longer

a matter of edges, until there is nothing

but space.


©1984 Kurt Biehl


About Køt Biehl

I am a psychiatrist in private practice with 25 years experience in multiple settings including long-term inpatient, acute inpatient, partial hospitalization, outpatient, hospital consultation, long term psychodynamic psychotherapy, brief psychotherapy, and even electroconvulsive therapy. I am board certified in general psychiatry and psychosomatic medicine. My interests are many. I bore easily. I am fascinated by shamanic healing, particle physics, quantum theory, Schubert, Brahms, Schoenberg, Jung, Reik, Pynchon, Proust, Mark Strand, John Berryman, Richard Feinman, Wharhol, Pollock, Kandinsky, Miro, audiophile stereo reproduction, rocks on the beach, and small shiny objects.
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