The Verdict

Author | Darren Stein

Like a hostage negotiation
the battle to get my autistic son to take his
medication takes hour upon desperate hour-
‘Just touch the syringe with your finger.’
‘Now hold it.’’
‘Touch it lightly to your cheek.’
‘Now touch the side of it to your lips.’
‘Just taste the tip of the nozzle with your tongue…
you don’t have to drink it yet.’
and so it goes.
What starts as a cataclysmic meltdown
ends in a stubborn battle of wills
which my wife and I realize will cost us the war
if we reinforce his refusal to comply.
But logic is irrelevant; the greater good;
the prospect of greater pain to come; 
our own mental health
bare no traction.
The surgeons, the nurses, all smirk in perplexity
as they repeat the same unconvincing platitudes
that we have just rehearsed.
‘Restraining him will just traumatise him,’ they say,
but not doing so will cost him his health,
‘You need to get him the help he requires to develop
his coping skills and reduce his anxiety, ’ they say
as I think of years of unstated therapy and interventions
that we have sweated through to get him to this place;
So I shamefully swallow their sound advice and judgment
and debate the moral burden of my abuse


About the Author | Darren Stein was born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1973, and immigrated to Sydney, Australia in 1996. He teaches History and English at a college on Sydney’s North Shore and publishes his art and poetry whenever someone gives him a chance. His recent work has appeared in Poetica, Metaphor, Words Apart, The Journal of Microliterature, and Twelve Winters Press. His second anthology, The Nut House Poems, has recently been release by Red Dashboard Publications.