Convincing a Patient I Was Not The Devil
— a poem by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal

Convincing a Patient 
I Was Not The Devil

When I came in through the doors
the old, schizophrenic woman
sized me up, referred to me as
the devil, and said she would not
discuss her problems with me.

I walked over to the nursing station
and read her medical chart, not
paying attention to her screaming
and epithets. She knew I was
coming for her and she didn't like it.

After a half hour of taking notes,
the old woman was screamed out.
She had her cigarette break, had fifteen
minutes of group time, where
she was mostly guarded and withdrawn.

When I came out to talk to her, I was
polite, smiled, and requested her
audience. Somehow we hit it off.
She didn't think I was the devil anymore.
She voices her concerns and fears.

She demanded I help her out of this
hellhole, where she believed she was
not a patient like the others. She said
she wouldn't trust the doctor with her life,
and I a perfect stranger could save her soul.

Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal works in the mental health field in Los Angeles, CA. He was born in Mexico. His first book of poetry, Raw Materials, was published by Pygmy Forest Press. He is amember of the Guerrilla Poetics Project. His poems have appeared in Cerebral Catalyst,Zygote in my Coffee, and Unlikely Stories.