Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Villainess

I'm back. This may be the longest I've ever gone without blogging. I spent four hours yesterday scanning and repairing my laptop to I could avoid an endless loop of error dialogues at startup: "Windows Explorer has encountered and error and must close. We apologize for the inconvenience." Nice of Microsoft to apologize, I just wish it would quit showing me that error box over and over again. Ah well, it's gone thanks to a commandline tool and my original system disk. Thank goodness my ten year old Mac still works.

So anyway, one of the podcasts that will eventually be posted has a segment we did about the use of the humanities in medical education. I talked about some of my favorite female sociopaths in classic literature, and then a friend reminded me later about a couple others in literature and opera. So I decided I'd put my money where my mouth is and write a poem about female sociopaths.

Poetry is not new to Shrink Rap. A while back we had a post, The Cats Go Barefoot With Grace, in which I invited readers to submit poems using that line somewhere. (It originated in a comment on Dinah's post, The Secretary Who Couldn't Stop Talking. She had put up a hypothetical problem and asked for input. I got totally distracted by the sentence 'The cats go barefoot with grace.')

So anyway, the type of poem I used is called a villanelle. It's a very structured form that I've heard is the hardest to write. A villanelle uses two rhyming lines alternately in six stanzas, coupling them together at the end. The most well-known example of a villanelle is Dylan Thomas' "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night," which uses the lines:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

My poem is called "Villanelle For The Villaness". I've included wikipedia links (the source of all definitive Internet knowledge) for those of you who want to read about the references I make in the poem. Here it is:


Villanelle For The Villainess

For jealousy, ambition, and greed that will not quell
There is a poisoned cup or a tender knife.
The evil that women do, they do well.

Steinbeck loosed a feminine hell
In Cathy's charms with her liquid death, all
For jealousy, ambition, and greed that will not quell

Shakespeare knew, and could foretell
Through witches a lady's persuasive regicide.
The evil that women do, they do well.

Carmen, the fiery gypsy belle,
Once prison-freed she drove men mad
For jealousy, ambition, and greed that will not quell

Milady was destined for hell when
Dumas beheaded her for the musketeers' revenge.
The evil that women do, they do well.

A man may kill and risk a cell,
No clever plots for him, just shoot and drop. But...
For jealousy, ambition, and greed that will not quell
The evil that women do, they do well.

And no, I'm not quitting my day job.


Anonymous said...

so like what evil are you planning/?
And are we sure that you, I, and Roy can't quit our day jobs and go start another life somewhere?

Anonymous said...

dinah , if that didn't convince you, nothing ever will.

Lee said...

sorry that this isn't related to this post.
I ran a few google searches related to this question but didn't find what I was looking for.
I'm looking through my records in the diagnosis section it says
"Axis IV: 4"
I get that the Axis IV is the psychosocial and environmental factors section, but I can't figure out what the 4 is supposed to mean in relation to that.
Can you explain?

Awake and Dreaming said...

that, was awesome.

Roy said...

Nicely done, Clink.

Lee... I've never seen a number on Axis 4. It's usually like, "Unemployment", "Marital discord", "Homelessness", stuff like that. Maybe some people use their own code instead of the phrases (eg, 4=Unemployment, 5=Marital Discord, etc)?

Sarebear said...

Awesome poetry, Clink

Anonymous said...

Can someone strike the word awesome from the dictionary already? Is there anything left that is not awesome? If you need to to quell anthing, go for the sero-------eyes rolling to the back of my head. In addition to keeping the day jobs which you may or may not need, you might want to keep that little indulgence out of your um book

Anonymous said...


You seem to come visit just to make cutting comments.

It's one thing when you do it to us--nasty, annoying, feels pretty bitchy-- but it's our blog and we're putting ourselves out here.

It's another thing when you come on to be purposely obnoxious to our readers in a hurtful way.

Sarebear: it's kind of you to comment on Clink's awesome poetry, and if you don't mind my saying so, you, too, are awesome! It's a perfectly good word which conveys its own positive emotion.

Anon: find someone else to pick on.

Anonymous said...

This was an interesting blog post! I enjoyed it. I think you would be very amused by the lyrics of the song "Female of the Species" by Space. I think it is loosely based on a poem by Rudyard Kipling. Check it out!

ClinkShrink said...

Thank you for the kind words about my poem. And Anonymous #2, those were great references. I'm linking to the Rudyard Kipling poem for those who are interested.

Sarebear: I ditto what Dinah said. She said it better, and more politely than I would have.

Anonymous said...


I'm currently a military Psychiatrist, but I'm separating from Active Duty in July. There's an opportunity for me to work in a low security BOP prison that I'm looking at. I'm transferring to the US Public Health Service (another uniformed service) and Correctional Psychiatry is one of the 2 options available to USPHS doctors who want to continue clinical work (the other being the Indian Health Service).

So can you give me some input as to this opportunity? Thanks.


ClinkShrink said...

Dean: A psychiatrist with military experience would be great for BOP work, and the Federal prison system is a good place to start. A minimum security facility would house relatively low-level offenders with either short sentences or who are near the end of their sentences. In other words, they won't be looking for trouble and are less likely to have behavior problems.

Some of the questions you might want to consider are:

1. What resources will I have to work with (office space, support staff, allied mental health professionals, drug formulary)?

2. What coverage will be available when I take time off?

3. What security staff will be assigned to my clinic and do they rotate often?

4. What inpatient resources and suicide observation resources are available and what are the procedures for accessing them?

5. Who will be orienting me to the facility and are they easily available for questions?

I hope this helps. Thank you for considering correctional work.