In loving memory of poet William H. Hetznecker III




“There is a silence between the songs of Robins.

I miss you dear Father of mine.”

Matthew Hetznecker

By Sally A. Downey

Inquirer Staff Writer

William H. Hetznecker III, 79, of Malvern, a child psychiatrist and poet, died Friday, April 1, of pneumonia at Broomall Presbyterian Village.From 1967 to 1987, Dr. Hetznecker treated youngsters at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. In 1974 he cowrote the book On Behalf of Children, a survey of problems and the progress of community child psychiatry in the United States. 

In the 1960s and 1970s, he worked with the Crisis Intervention Network to help reduce gang violence in North Philadelphia.

Dr. Hetznecker, a professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at Temple University Medical School, taught students and residents at St. Christopher’s to develop compassion for the suffering of their young patients, son Paul said.

After leaving St. Christopher’s, Dr. Hetznecker was a vice president of Clinical Affairs for TAO Inc., a managed-care company in Philadelphia specializing in mental health and chemical dependency.

For 30 years, he was also a consultant to various institutions including the Philadelphia, Upper Merion, and Lower Merion School Districts.

Dr. Hetznecker served as an examiner for the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and the American Board of Child Psychiatry.

He began writing poetry in 1950, and in 1998 he retired to devote himself his second passion, his son said. His work was published in poetry journals, including the American Poetry Newsletter, the Literary Forum Anthology, and the Blue Satellite.

He often read his poems at the Tyme Gallery in Havertown. In a tribute, the gallery’s website said, “Bill had a true understanding of the human spirit.”

Dr. Hetznecker grew up in Evanston, Ill., where he was the star running back on his high school football team. He earned a bachelor’s degree from St. Louis University, a medical degree from Loyola University in Chicago, and later a master’s degree in radiation biology from the University of Rochester.

After completing an internship at Indianapolis’ General Hospital, he was a physician for the U.S. Public Health Service in Washington and on an Indian reservation in Minnesota. He completed a residency in psychiatry at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, N.Y., and had a fellowship in child psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore.

Besides writing poetry, he enjoyed jazz and classical music. He and his wife, Noreen Ryan Hetznecker, were subscribers to the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Wilma Theater, and the People’s Light and Theater Company. The couple met in Chicago and married in 1957. He was her helper after she became blind in the 1990s.

His health began to decline after she died in 2008, their son said. “They weren’t meant to be apart. He truly died of a broken heart,” he said.

In addition to his son, Dr. Hetznecker is survived by sons Matthew, Dan and James; a daughter, Sarah; and nine grandchildren.

Friends may call from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, April 5, and 8:30 to 10 a.m., Wednesday, April 6, at Stretch Funeral Home, 236 E. Eagle Rd., Havertown. A Funeral Mass will be at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 6, at St. Margaret’s Church, 208 N. Narberth Ave., Narberth.

Donations may be made to Elephant Listening Project, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 159 Sapsucker Woods Rd., Ithaca, N.Y. 14850.

Our heartfelt condolences Matthew…L. K. Thayer

“Stampede Of Presence” by Vicki Batkin

His spirit dances into my semi-conscious mind,
while I’m under the influence of the needles.
I feel peace.
“Did you relax?” she says,
as she enters the room,
to extract the thin sharp stainless steel from my body
Yes, I reply with my bones feeling heavy.
Gingerly, I sit up,
and notice a bright orange shoe-horn,
clinging to the coat-hanger.
It’s the only color
in this small, pale room.
And, it’s over a foot long.
I did not notice that when I arrived.
Through the dust from the stampede,
I wipe my eyes and look again.
He used a shoe-horn.
and long.
“For Christ-sake, use a shoe-horn”
He would say, over and over
“You can’t ruin the integrity of the shoe”
“And the sock will suffer as well”.
Of course, I thought,
wearing a baby’s brain
with an old man’s heart.
I don’t need knowledge
when I found wisdom
Sometimes Good is better than Clever
I promise to never ruin the integrity of the shoe
I promise the sock will not suffer
I promise to use a shoe-horn.
If you promise to keep showing up

Vicki Batkin

© 2011

“If…” by L. K. Thayer

I’ve laid in bed at my grandparent’s
house, the one at the lake
where my mother still lives
and heard the train whistle blow
from across the water, echo
the sound of home.
the smell of lilacs and suntan lotion
the sound of Loons calling for
their mate and I wonder,
if my dad hadn’t left
would I have a mated too?

did he look for me in my toy box
playing with my dolls?
did he see me come home with
bloody toes from riding my tricycle
barefoot up to the corner store for candy?
on the front lawn, he bounced a beach ball
on my head, that was him wasn’t it?
I waited for him to meet me after school
he never showed,
we didn’t know what happened to him or
where he had gone.

I found him later , across from me
stuttering in the booth at the delicatessen off hi-way 12.
I was 18. I was with my brother, who couldn’t
yet walk, when he split. His parents
lived just down the block, they never came
to see us. He sent music &
cards after we met & wrote I love you in crooked script.
I didn’t think him sending me the song Lisa, Sad Lisa,
by Cat Stevens, was a very thoughtful gift,
but he was never
really tuned in so how would he know.
he called me a few times, his voice
hollow, I didn’t like
the sound of him.


don’t call back.

L. K. Thayer’s Foto Fetish

© 2010

“Between Worlds” by Vida Vierra

“The moment I faced the inevitable loss of my Father…”

Despite the freshness of this warm
New England morning, I cannot take a deep
breath. The cleansing winds and morning dew fail to penetrate into that realm of the bardo I am traversing.

It is day four of the Hostage Crisis. Francis Xavier, having been captured by Parkinson’s, is now enduring the torture of dementia. He had once remarked to his children “this disease is my prison”. Now sentenced, he lays helpless on the over starched sheets, behind the metal bars of the bed made by fate. Faded flowered smocks press up against his face as rubber gloved hands administer protocols masquerading as “Care”. Through my shallow breath I must gather my courage to once again press that buzzer and enter the security doors of this Purgatory.

After these last three days, I now understand why a guard is necessary.
My heart aches with an unnameable grief.
For three days I have been cursed as a stranger, a threatening shadow being who kisses his trembling hands. I feel like a hungry ghost, longing for the days when we feasted on politics, mystics, and laughter.
Where is the “How to” book for this unprepared moment of Now? Dear God, how can such a giant evaporate before a daughter’s eyes? Hail Mary, can your Grace open a new passage way through this labyrinth? As I turn the corner of these dim lit walls I hover, suspended between heaven and earth. I dare not breathe in the inevitable.

The only sunlit window revealing life as we know it on earth is at the end of his hallway. I chase away the image of the clear, white light. My palms now sweating, I steady my legs unsure if I can withstand another day of rejection. Once again I cross the threshold of his dark, gray room lit only by the blue light of “Jeopardy”.

As I enter the gate for this race against time I summon a deep breath as if I am about to push in labor. I will overcome my life long vertigo. I will jump off that bridge between this world and the next. With my brightest daughter’s smile that

was always his, I dive.

Vida Vierra

Photo by VC Ferry

All Rights Reserved

© 2010

“The Hallway” by Adesh Kaur

Adesh Kaur

The dead father and a howling daughter.
De, de, deny thy father and… you’ll
no longer be….
–JoJo, let the poets cry themselves
to sleep! Aye, fly away home, captain.
De part dearly.

Hey, pumpkin head, how ‘boot that?
It’s cold & dark. A frozen lake.
Bundle up.
Mittens still warmish & cocoa
I will make for thee before
you wake.

You were the hallway narrowing its heart.
You were a bedroom hitchhiking a plan.
You were one revolver who loved you back.
You were a mouth open to the refrains.
You were the trigger-man with no slack.
You were the bullet wanting to part.
I, am your splattered brains.

Adesh Kaur

All Rights Reserved

© 2009

“Sovereignty” by Alex Bledsoe

Alex Bledsoe & child

Alex Bledsoe & Charlie

I found my father passed out in the mud
beside the pond, napping with Smirnoff.
The fish hooked on his untended rod and reel
fought no one, to the death.

A fly landed on his face,
walked across the tips of his whiskers

toward his sugary drool
and never touched his skin.

Alex Bledsoe

All Rights Reserved

© 2009