A Small Poem Written in a Dark Room
Like nothing you’ll ever see
Says my right eye
Which indeed sees nothing
And so thinks he stands for truth
And the left, which looks through smoke
Like an absinthe drinker
Perhaps knows little
But finds the coins on the table
I walk in circles with an apple in my hand. I’m testing the waters of the next life. This is a way of being.
Who was the composer who heard apples in a basket?
Can’t remember this snowy morning…
Spending time with a barn cat
Talking to the blind horse
So much of what I do
One writes myths
A troll who loves geese
Protects lost animals
Why do you start with punctuation and then abandon it
Sometimes I itch and sometimes I don’t
A small poem from one of my notebooks:
Morning. The maples soaked with rain—
How a human mind starts up
Cold, still, dark…
Who taught me
About life after life?
Old man stands
“How sad are you?”
Resting blind face
My twin brother died
Just after I was born
He got here first and looked around
I know we only get one chance
If I had Auden’s talent
I’d make this rhyme
Let’s walk in spring sunshine
Let’s wander upriver
Where water’s clear
If I could tell you I would let you know
Time will say nothing but I told you so
Love’s amusing, terribly fast
My brother looked—
And now he’s the upturned eyes of life in footprints
I write poetry each morning,
Check off another step toward death
Just the way Shakespeare said
Fall down in the leaves
When there are leaves
Fall in snow
When there’s snow
Throw your whole body
Onto the page
Pretend you’re Anaximander
Nothing holds up the earth
Picking up fallen apples for the horses.
My nation is dying. Ice comes to the pond.
Neruda: and I went my own way, deciphering….
In these hard times remember the winter rain from childhood. Back then the prevailing narrative was that you were bored.
You didn’t see Orpheus peeking out from behind the birches.
Let’s plan on riding horses in another world…
Be serious and oil the hinges…
Not everyone loves the poets. I’m ok with this. The world isn’t a pub and I’m not trying to be funny.
“Witches are living projections of feelings that defy easy rationalization or reconciliation: amity and enmity, compassion and cruelty, self-confidence and fear.”
Witchcraft: A Very Short Introduction
The sighted are terribly weak. I think of them as akin to children who must step over the cracks on sidewalks lest they break their grandmother’s backs. Seeing is the superstition. Blindness is just life. Jesus, don’t get me started. Amity and enmity. Stay away from the blind at all costs. Blindness is pestilence. I’m the blind boogeyman who’s going to steal your sighted life.
Oil the hinges Melville, here comes another rainstorm.
“Do you always write about disability?”
“No. Sometimes I write about riding ponies in heaven, but then I realize that’s also about disability…”
Last night I had dark dreams
“Oh well,” says my left hand—
The mature one
She’s dreaming still
Deep in Rachmaninoff….
I’m sad because I broke a flower
All winter I nurtured it
Sent it thoughts
If I cried out
No one would hear me
Not even my dog
Who’s stalking birds—
Spring and all
There should be a tune for this—something Doric
Of Rude Scotts—though still a kind of plaint
Jist tyaavin awaa, just struggling along
A fine mist covering the page
I passed you at the Workshop (me looking
Like Rasputin) (you with a buzz cut)
Two damaged men in a dark corridor
Poetry, briefly, takes anyone
There’s a Brazilian saying, “haste is the mother of imperfection” and accordingly I must be perfect by now. This is because I’ve spent my life trying to convince sighted people that being blind is a perfectly acceptable way of living. Or more than that. Blindness is life as life itself, a central feature of being alive, just another fact like candy or coconuts.
I am not hasty. I am however tired of bigots who demean people who hail from the margins. I see trans rights as being every bit as important as disability rights. And right now I’m frightened for one of the major political parties in my nation has decided to declare war on historically marginalized people. I don’t think “war” is too extreme for the aim is make people illegal, both on the printed page and in the public square. The aim is to remove us.
The disabled know something about this. We’ve been in the asylums, the special schools, the sheltered workshops.
I am not hasty. Abled, white, cis-gendered men and women are throwing dangerous tantrums. I’ve lived their BS. Been told “you can’t come in here”; “can’t be part of this class”—“isn’t there some special place for you?”
Yes, There’s a special place for my people. It’s called America.
The Iroquois people have a saying: “Remember your children are not your own but are lent to you by the Creator.”
A woman sneered at me yesterday afternoon. We were on an airplane. Her seat was next to mine. Spotting the guide dog at my feet she pitched a fit. She told everyone within earshot that she was allergic to dogs. She needed immediate attention. She demanded a seat in First Class. She was, as they say, a “hot mess” and I tried to empathize—who am I to say she didn’t have allergies or that this wasn’t a deep inconvenience for her? Yet her nastiness was the thing. She was affronted by the very idea that I was “there” in that space. She sizzled with contempt.
If you’re disabled you know all about the contempt sizzlers. As Mark Twain would say, “you’ve met them on the river.”
More about the river…
The river is god itself. Not your ideas about it. Not your yearnings. It goes about its business, moving the glory of creation wherever it needs to go. Children sit on the banks dreaming. This is proper prayer.
The ableists’ river is also god itself. Its where self-contempt goes to bathe. And here come the cripples, floating down stream like loaves of bread…
You see, some days a cripple just doesn’t know what to say.
River. Bread, Children. Dreams. God in the mix. And sad strangers who can’t speak our language.
I wish that woman with her dog allergy well. I don’t think she had an allergy at all. It was in her voice. Studies show you can spot liars by their intonations. Hers said: “I’m a nasty, self absorbed wart of a person. And I want you to pay attention to me.”
The dog just slept.