Poetry by Hans Steiner


The way he sits has changed.

He slumps.

He sleeps

While sitting

And he looks pathetic

When we leave.


What started it was just

A cold

Passed on by an 

Ever coughing infant.

He sits

His belly out

No  more contained by shirt and belt.

His getting up:

A rocking in the chair

A desperate grasp

Onto his walker

A hissing laugh

When he falls back,

Not having gotten



After a fall from bed

He screams to pick him up.

I think he said

I need to go,

I want to go into

A nursing home.


Long silence then.

To which I answered

You think long and hard

Bout that one

Cause that is where

He picks you up.




Inspired by and reflecting the 3rd movement (sic) of Ludwig van Beethoven’s string quartet # 15 in A minor, opus 132, molto adagio.



Encased in silence like a Trappist monk

at the Abbey of Heil’genkreuz

I descend deep into myself

to hear the sounds of songs to come.

No one can hear them -

unless I put my quill to paper.

These harmonies from other worlds

Are layers of smooth velvet ‘til

they flow into sadness, even despair -

is there still time?

I burst with song but maybe it is

time to sleep. Ascent or descent – whither?

I am suspended, caught in spheric silence, like my

Bowels: where flatulent

expulsion used to be are now

crescendo borbyrigmi.

My latest hope: the waters from

the City of Saints.

Drink one glass, and another, three…

The answer: farting, borbyrigmi.



But hark and feel:

A flatus, and another, three…





I feel the precious tube contorting

Could this be my smooth muscle snake’s salvation?

Flatus, flatus, what’s my status? 

Borbyrigmi decrescendo.



I plumb the fury at my lot,

colonic trickery, life’s gruesome plot.

Taking my ears first, and now this!

Next thing it could be my piss.

Perhaps it’s time to go

to rest.

But my resentment

Does not set me free:

I am still full of song and faeces,

I must propel that giant plug!

Come, take more waters, pass more gas,

at my command, my leaden arse!

Heiligenstadt’s finest to the rescue

Silver pearls, I abide with thee.






Heiligenstadt waters turn to motion:

Flatus, flatus, flatus -


Black plugs, smashing china under 

colons dark victorious thunder!

Suddenly I’m light enough to be

creator, forging music’s future.

No time to sleep !

With burning bottom, I must wield the quill.

Flying from note to note, alive and free,

I leave paralysis, infirmity.



Soft swelling tones now to give praise

to deities who made this happen.

My gift to you: the songs of an

emboldened man.

Spring forth, you glistening harmonies!

A window opens in my cloister cell: cool air

floods in, a breath of things to come.

Life sings its own symphonies of suffering, silence

and triumphant spirit. 

And I, deaf to the bone, can hear it.



Academic Psychiatry, October 2017