Following my last entry here is a poem about suicide, and the complex feelings suicide arouses in one left behind to contemplate the enormity of that action. The state of mind of the person immediately prior to the act can vary through despair to rage, and from a sense of total failure to one of having been totally failed. The first stanza is not about suicide at all, but about the kind of personal experience which might enable a professional to understand what a suicidal person is experiencing. Sometimes in a poem there is an effect of mimesis, and there is that intention at the end of this poem. It is dedicated to my guide in managing suicidal patients as a psychiatrist, Gethin Morgan.

You'll learn something new about eloquence
when the power fails you.
While speaking you feel doubtful
of the approaching preposition
and stumble.
As you strain to make a point
your words become sombre
and stay grounded.
You recover
but are discouraged 
and swerve the final flourish
though it worked before.

There's a related problem 
of nuances and scruples
which touches the self less closely.
For that reason 
the jolt comes later.
It's the failure to hear as urgent
the recurring note of despair:
never starkly present
breaking against a self-concealing shame,
someone's parleying with life
in the days before ending it.

Published by davidcookpoet

I am a husband, father and grandfather. I retired from a busy working life as an adult psychiatrist in 2014. My interests are in literature, philosophy, modern jazz and horse racing. I might represent those four fields by Shakespeare, Kant, Charlie Parker and Lester Piggott. Like nearly all of us, I can identify a number of formative experiences, one of which was a psychotic episode in my first year as a psychiatrist. This reinforced an already established interest in mystical experience, and a sense of how little human beings know. My intellectual bugbear is reductive materialism, and I am surprised at the lack of moral imagination of those who promulgate such views. It seems to me they need to consider ,perhaps by exposure, just why totalitarianism is so horrific.

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