“Introduction to My ‘Poems’ ”

by John Diamond, M.D.

All these things I write are not poems: they lack the art and the craft. Too simple, too straightforward. They are short, but not haikus—there’s no Zen twist of the head. Nor are they even meant for the head. But they are not quite prose—there’s an intensification, a condensation. And also they’re in a different voice of mine.

There’re like aphorisms—but not that clever. Nor are they meant to be.

They are verse, because they turn at the end of each line. And as verse is thought by the pundits to be low poetry, Eliot for instance so denigrating Kipling. So they are verse—but with a special purpose: my intention behind each one of the hundreds and hundreds is for me through them to be therapeutic: to raise the Life Energy, the Healing Spirit. Just as is my intention with every sufferer in my healing practice.

William Carlos Williams was a doctor, but I do not believe his poems were meant for his patients, nor to help all his readers as if they were. Whereas this and this alone is my purpose. And I believe, like the Australian psychiatrist Ainslie Meares, that the verse form helps the message to go deeper—not into the brain, but the heart. So as to actuate the deep but often dormant desire for health and life.

And each and every verse I write is tested and re-tested for this—especially the rhythm, the flow, the layout and punctuation. All to ensure that my purpose is fulfilled. Each test is of my therapeutic intention, and each verse must pass that test—at an increasingly more difficult level.

Here’s one that comes to mind. I wrote it about twenty years ago on the New Jersey shore where I’d gone to write a book on reconciliation with the mother (The Remothering Experience), which I regard as the very essence of healing. About a decade later my son recited it at my mother’s funeral.

I thought I’d keep
when my mother died
her teapot
as a memento.

It doesn’t matter now
– not even the memories,
only my ever-increasing
of the Mother
she Yearned to Be.

Not poetry, only verse. But with therapeutic aspiration. They are, as best I can make them therapeutic verses—for that’s what I believe I am: a therapeutic versifier.