The Five Types of Ableists Presented in a Nutshell

There are five basic types of ableists and why not define them?

  1. “The Peanut Gallery Ableist”

The “I have a disabled friend” type. She/he/they will tell you how much they care about disability issues cuz they were once within hailing distance of a cripple. Or they have a relative or a neighbor who’s “got something” etc. This person is essentially dangerous. They’ll stab you in the back of the old wheelchair whenever it’s convenient.

  1. “The Running Dog Ableist”

This is the “I’d Like to Help You, But It’s too Expensive” version. I call them running dogs in memory of the old IWW expression: “the running dogs of the bourgeoisie.” Whatever the boss tells us, that’s what we’re gonna do. And you, my crippled pal, you are not cost-effective.

  1. (From “Tartuffe” by Moliere)

The Geronte: when his son is kidnapped he says: “Que diable allait-il faire dans cette galère?” (What in the deuce did he want to go on that galley for?” In other words, he brought this upon himself. “Really, shouldn’t you try something easier? I could have told you.” Cripples hear this all the time.

4. “The Tragedy Monger”

Sees disability as a great misfortune. Loves “overcoming” stories and inspiration porn. Believes in mind over matter. Thinks if only the disabled have the right attitude, well, anything could be possible. Forgets there were optimists on the Titanic.

  1. “The Wag Staff”

Loves to lecture about disability but has none himself. Plenty of academics fall into this category but also NGO types and charity officials. They live without irony or nuance but boy can they talk.

An Old Man Contemplates the Dailiness of Life

Lately it’s all a muddle,
Green leaves in the park
Whisper of winds
Stray piano
From an upper story
He can’t focus
Thinks of algebra
And superstitions
He should have kept home
Ought to have known better
Feigning citizenship
Who is he anyway
Walking the familiar neighborhood
His life now a series
Of bright points
Keep walking he thinks
Language isn’t much of a thing
Keep walking

Notebook, October 8, 2021

Notebook, October 8, 2021

Oh friend:

Here’s wishing you a nap that no one can see inside the blue lamp of imagination. When one has this he’s never lonely.


I used to steal my neighbor’s newspaper when I was a graduate student in Iowa City. He was a fascist and not ashamed of it. I couldn’t decide if I was helping him or harming him by my thievery. Then I realized I was just a coward like everyone else.


The Romantics felt pain was necessary for desire. La belle dame sans merci…” Silly stuff. But it sells well.


Alter-ego can’t we ride our horses side by side?


The whole body oscillates when its autumn.


Yes. Keats is silly and I said it. How I love him.


Saul Bellow:

“That being oneself and not others should be deplored as a condition of misery is the most unambiguous sign of the triumph in the individual of the ideology of mass culture over spiritual independence.”


I’ve never wanted to be anyone else. Hey you! Stop following me around.


Preliminary human question:

How long
Do you last
After eating
The crenelated
Popsicle mushroom?

Often these days I’m forced to reflect on Marcus Aurelius…

Often these days I’m forced to reflect on Marcus Aurelius’ famous maxim: “the soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts.” I’m in my 60’s and entering the age of disappointments. This means I’ve had my share of luck. I wasn’t a refugee child. As a boy I was treated with penicillin. If my schooling wasn’t superb it was adequate. It is proper to reflect on one’s advantages. If I was a blind child who was bullied—well, I also fell in love with Duke Ellington in solitude and later an excellent professor told me about Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” and so muscular lyricism came my way. I have enough good sense to count these discoveries as good luck.

I remind myself to stay mindful of small fortunes. The color of thought is yet another thing I can’t describe. But reflecting on it has to be good. Before this sounds like a self-help book let me point out human imagination is dark. 9/10 of it is pessimistic. You don’t have to be Buddhist to know it’s difficult to hold a clear thought in mind. The direction of thought influences it’s coloration. This much I know.

Perhaps I’ll die lonely without money. America is such a place. Maybe I’ll die in good company like Allen Ginsberg. If I pass like my father I’ll fall over while walking my dog. The soul has its own “thing” as they used to say in the sixties. Steeped in its iridescent moon-glow it can be open and unconcerned.

The mantra: take care of the soul. Don’t spit on anyone’s love.

Notebook, October 5…

Blind, Public School, 1963

They set the boy
Upright, small
In shirt sleeves

In a cold region
Of figures—

Of scrawls
Like dead men

Child with telescope

He’s inside my coat
Morning sun
And walking by the sea

When no one is out


Weather Picture

Winter came into the armored car
Stick men smoked in the dark


When an ancient dog heard wind she heard everything.

Anthropologists say dogs came to the human realm because we were throwing out the bones. But you can’t understand creatures just by appetites.

Dogs always understood air is enchanted. They know the telegraphy of swallows crossing and recrossing sunbeams between trees. They know the darkening tunnel inside the wind. They know who lives there. That’s what you hear when a dog dreams.


Shoes of Nostalgia

Of Hush Puppies I recall after you wore them for a day or two they tended to stink. I remember my father saying: “Your shoes smell like dead rats.” “How do you know what dead rats smell like?” I asked him. “I was in WWII,” he said.


Buddha said: “Resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant with the weak and wrong. Sometime in your life, you will have been all of these.”


Afterlife Sauna:

Oh Wallace Stevens I love you. You are a demi tasss cup with a chipped gold rim. You are the blind man’s imagined peacock, and by God I heard a real one once—it sounded like a human baby being torn apart, though I cannot confirm this sentiment.

Oh Muriel Rukeyser I love you. You pulled from ether Penelope’s unraveled loomings and you were funny. God yes.

Oh Auden.

Oh Ted Berrigan…

Oh Alice Notley…

Oh Herkimer Puccini (my father’s nickname for me, growing up…)


The rich have “panic rooms” which are like bank vaults. They go right in, like Hitler to his bunker.
The poor have “panic shoes” which are like those puffy red envelopes from bill collectors.

“Elämä on ihmiselle annettu,
jotta hän tarkoin harkitsisi,
missä asennossa tahtoo olla kuollut…”

Life was given to man
so he may consider
what position he’ll assume when dead…

Pentti Saarikoski


Oh Pentti…


Oh Elizabeth Bishop:

“Think of the long trip home.
Should we have stayed at home and thought of here?
Where should we be today?
Is it right to be watching strangers in a play
in this strangest of theatres?
What childishness is it that while there’s a breath of life
in our bodies, we are determined to rush
to see the sun the other way around?
The tiniest green hummingbird in the world?
To stare at some inexplicable old stonework,
inexplicable and impenetrable,
at any view,
instantly seen and always, always delightful?
Oh, must we dream our dreams
and have them, too?
And have we room
for one more folded sunset, still quite warm?”


Oh Plato, I went down to the Pereus. Walked among the yachts. Saw rich men drinking retsina. Even at twenty two I could see they didn’t have much in the way life.

Plato I loved you that year. And I loved you for this:

“The soul takes nothing with her to the next world but her education and her culture. At the beginning of the journey to the next world, one’s education and culture can either provide the greatest assistance, or else act as the greatest burden, to the person who has just died.”

Finger At a Window

It’s a small life we’re after, minnows in a pond, a donkey beside a ruined house. Most miss it—the sure knowledge that finding is not altaic. The poet says, “let’s be small together,” and the soul takes some comfort.

Emily Dickinson wrote:

“How happy is the little stone
That rambles in the road alone,
And doesn’t care about careers,
And exigencies never fears;
Whose coat of elemental brown
A passing universe put on;
And independent as the sun,
Associates or glows alone,
Fulfilling absolute decree
In casual simplicity.”

When the soul’s diary tends to smallness it also turns toward aloneness. We are children looking into the shallows. We stand at windows and draw our names on the cold panes. If we’re lucky no adult comes to say we’ve smudged the glass.

A small life “is” absolute decree. It’s enough. And since the soul knows this it grieves for the adult who it must accompany as she’s compelled to go to human resources meetings, endure the social frostbite of politics and all mordant habituations. How many meetings have I attended where I’ve thought: “there isn’t an ounce of life in this room” and wished I could fly to independence? Well, too often to count.

The magnanimity of less and less. Soul says—Once I aspired to tallness like the oak…now it’s magenta seeds I’m after…

Emily Dickinson: “My best Acquaintances are those/With Whom I spoke no Word”

Finger at a window…