Creative Space

ISSTD NEWS Celebrates World Poetry Day, 2023

March 21 is World Poetry Day. On the UNESCO website for the day, poetry is described as a vitally important and universal form of cultural expression: “Practiced throughout history – in every culture and on every continent – poetry speaks to our common humanity and our shared values, transforming the simplest of poems into a powerful catalyst for dialogue and peace.” Writing about the day the Free Press Journal reports that “No other type of literature creates such a plethora of feelings and emotions as the abstraction of poetry. … From sonnets to rap lyrics, the core purpose of poetry remains the same — to explore the human condition and invoke emotion through words. Poetry resonates with the existential dilemmas of mankind, exhuming ideas from deep within.”

In that spirit ISSTD News invited members of ISSTD’s poetry group to contribute a poem and a small selection of these follows for your enjoyment. Thank you to our generous poets for their contributions, and we will share more of their work throughout the year.


Painted blue body markings
Observant bright blue eyes
Crystal wings like watch glass
Outstretched into untethered time
Constant presence taut with attention
Keen-eyed, vigilant on the alert
Watching assessing at the ready

Helper flocks of wingwomen
Flitting about feathers fluttering
Seeking hidden spaces
Filled with dirty gray fog
Inky black flecks of despair
Bubbling moldy smell
Hanging in thick stagnant air

Sudden sounds split the air
Tweets, twitters, chirps
Sensitive ears respond
Silently swooping in
Crystal wings sun-flashing
Cleansing, clearing distress
Infilling well-being

Joan A. Turkus MD, 2023

My hands hold my head
A globe of the world
Ukraine and Russia
Pulsing through
Left brain right brain
A split in all of us
History spitting through
Its undead feuds
Aleppo, Zelensky
A-Z of love and murder
Part of us on holiday
Part of us killing
Part of us watching us die
The terrified child
Holds out its dying flower
New seeds of death and hope
Planted daily
Valerie Sinason

Because I Am a Wave Attached to an Ocean
“Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots
into the very depth of your heart; confess to yourself you would have to die if you
were forbidden to write.” Rainer Maria Rilke

To remind myself why I write, I remember the golden eagle I saw
in an oak tree watching me. I remember the rattlesnake coiled around
a fence rattling, a fox so close on the trail I could almost reach out
to stroke its coat of reddish fur that swirled in the shade trees.
It was near a lake with an abundance of skate ray fish flapping
their wings at the water’s surface. Because there is nothing else
to do about loveliness than to bow down and worship it. Because I am
a hose attached to a spigot of images dying to explain why
there is so much suffering in a world that offers us this much beauty.

To remind myself why I write, I imagine how a heart dishes out
its love to swim in a lake with skate ray fish and their wings.
How my heart could be out there in the water and also inside my chest.
My heart, queen of the pond! While really, I’m at my desk pressing keys
with white letters on dark gray background because. Because I am a waterfall
attached to a river of spirits calling my name, Phyllis. Or maybe it’s Rilke
with his advice. Maybe it’s the fox who stood still as a photograph
in his foxy fur coat and whispered without words, Phyllis, write,
and didn’t say why, but a door opened and I walked through.

 Phyllis Klein,

our Covid odyssey
during Covid isolation a word, unwholesome
pierced my heart’s dolesome beats
lament lament lament

beyond simple grief’s silent wail
behind bitter sweet ruptures, betrayal after betrayal
lament lament lament

past plaintive isolation
I plunged into plangent alienation
lament lament lament

fits of privation brought to mind
access to a familiar family refrain
to reawaken still a deeper isolation

how insane, this internal collapse

my hopeless independence, scorched self-alienation
helplessly dependent on privation’s double subjugation

with each lament I untangled Penelope’s shroud:
boredom, fury, tedium, rage and vengeance

from finality’s aura, to reclaim golden threads of reality
renewing a silver lining, our elusive inter-dependence

we made peace, reclaimed our individual agency, freedom
simply to be, you and me

George Halasz
Previously published in Australasian Psychiatry,
Republished with thanks.