This is a series of vignettes drawn from a larger unfinished work entitled A Suicide.  It is a narrative poem written in the first person.  You might think it is about me  — it’s not.  As a physician and psychiatrist, it can be both a great gift and a  curse that patient stories often become our stories.




It has something to do with edges, the corners

of my room, the way sun streaks through my shutters

and seeks out every angle, slicing deep

into shadows, marking the walls and exposing the floor.

These walls are not perfect, my ground, uneven,

the cracks and pits are caught by light

and magnified – grotesque, unfathomed flaws.

When I was young, I once saw a crack so long

it seemed bigger than any wall, stronger than any plaster.

Breaking loose and splitting wide, this fantastic chasm,

this monstrous mouth, would swallow whole my house.

Such cracks are always waiting, waiting to take me in.


Something is wrong in my room,

but it cannot be me, it is not

my head, my brain is perfect,

unflawed. I have vision, I reason

beyond all limits. The problem

isn’t there, it isn’t

my mind. It is

what I lack, I do

not have.

I cannot reach, my touch is loose.


This is the day

I have always waited for.

All my life has tilted

towards this point.

A hot day in the middle

of August, a perfect

reflection of every day

I have ever known.

This is to be

that delicious day

when all the thousand

wrongs of my life

will be set right.

Everything will be focussed

into a few final moments

and dispersed by one wave

of my hand, tossed out

into the sky, crimson dissolving

into blue, casting a purple

haze over the horizon.


Grasping for life, I feel

the touch of fingers tight

on this gun. These are

my fingers, this is my hand.

I reach deep

into my mouth, searching

for the softest spot, the surest

way through my neck.

Probing gently towards this delicate

sweetbread of my throat, it seems

this gun has always been here.

Curling my lips tight

on the barrel, I can taste

charcoal and steel. I shiver

to the touch of cold metal

held by my teeth. These are

my teeth, this is my kiss.

I sense the sharp snap

of the trigger, I smell

the smoke swelling

within the chamber.

But the hard crack

is beyond me: I leave that for others to hear.


In this final moment

as metal touch metal

and sulphur sparks saltpeter

into carbon dust, a chunk of lead

is set into motion. A thick sea of blood

and gristle flows within the wake of this bullet,

severing ganglia and splitting cord as the soft element

mushrooms into hard bone. There is a bloom of life

as brilliant and fantastic as the billowing smoke

and heated flame bursting from my pistol.


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