Dear H: for those of us to whom words
sometimes do not easily run, saunter, or even
amble: we speak in code. We think in code. We
construct our languages painstakingly
like little Tolkiens, separated by time, distance, and space:
but the Hobbits and the Elves ain’t got
nothing on us. We have the dexterity
of pictures, objects, or even
moving film to send messages to world,
Posts tagged ‘poems’
Dear H: for those of us to whom words
I place my hands on the glass wall,
pushing against one more boundary
between me and the world, as if my bare hands
could make the wall more solid, less breakable: and when
I lift them up, I see the remains of one language
I speak, an entire matrix of lines, swirls, and whorls
dictated by DNA, stamped onto the glass
in oil and sweat. The handprints won’t tell you
about the endless rooms in my attic brain full of
my memories in Super 8 film rolls coiled up and sleeping
which have been magically appearing since I was a year old;
or the rooms of computer hard drives storing facts, numbers,
and encyclopedia notes numbering somewhere in the octillions;
or the glass-shatter heart that sometimes fractures if I breathe,
or suck in air from the shock or suspended surprise
of someone else’s pain, or when one of my own free-floating
pieces of celluloid with razor blade edges slices my fingers
when I yank it out of my film projector and try
to stuff it back into the canister it escaped from. The handprints
won’t tell you that our family’s collective lips are sealed
about our green strangeness, the unuttered word
that I alone out of the clan speak: autism. The handprints
won’t tell you that I shut my eyes and imagine
the lost, the mute, and the gaunt lit with pain
and pulling razor blades out of their throats
appearing as time-delimited half-tones behind this wall:
Tommy the pinball wizard;
my grandmother made of cedar beams, Indian blood, and elocution;
and a lizard poet, white knuckled, hanging on
to a rollercoaster of pain for dear life,
just to name a few. But the handprints will tell you
that I am human.
I wonder if you can see them: sometimes, I know
that on your side, you only see graffiti-infested concrete,
slapped and glued with headlines about
how our hearts are hollow, how we live as alien mutants
among you in a universe of uncertainty, and how
the word “never” seems to creep into your speech about
us. And you wonder why I erect a glass wall? Some days,
I am forced to pour concrete and hide behind
the wall of cold cinnereal while I listen to the noise
coming from the other side and my eyes
flood and create another ocean: but eventually,
I raze the walls that I construct, and all that separates
me from the world is a stately barrier of glass.
Place your hands on the glass and line them up
with mine: can you feel
the warmth from breath and skin, sweat and
rhythm, blood like tom-toms pounding and marching
all through my body? This is how we can be,
hand to hand, eye to eye, toe to toe, once I feel
I can approach the glass. We touch, and it can melt away
into a membrane, or it can eventually evaporate
and become a ghost that we used to look at each other
through: this is the understanding I need, and the vision
that you need. But as long as you insist on concrete
slapped with pity, pithy headlines, and ignorance,
you will never feel my handprints. You will never
feel my warmth. And you will be convinced that I am a
comic, hollow being that can never feel. And all
the while, I will be drowning in another one of my oceans
behind that wall.
© 2012 Nicole Nicholson. All Rights Reserved.
I wrote this to share today because it is World Autism Awareness Day (April 2, 2012). I hope you enjoy the poem and that it gives you another glimpse into my world.
Since I self-diagnosed myself in early 2010, I’ve been writing poems about autism and Asperger’s in order to understand them, as well as myself, and to make sense of what being autistic means. As part of both Autism Awareness/Acceptance/Understanding Month as well as during National Poetry Month, I’ve written some more poems about autism and Asperger’s.
You can read these poems over at Raven’s Wing Poetry, and I’ve gathered them all in one category to allow for easy finding. Some of these are password protected, so you’ll need to hit me up either via comment moderation, Twitter, or the contact information on Raven’s Wing Poetry if you’d like the password to read them (I did this so that they are not considered “published” and thus I would still be able to submit them to journals or other markets).
A newly cut video for my poem, “You Don’t See It”, will be featured at two Awe In Autism arts exhibits in April in New York state.
The events collectively are called The Awe in Autism: A Spectrum of Creativity. The first event is on Saturday, April 2 (World Autism Awareness Day) at the Glenwood Arts Center in Glenwood, NY, and will feature my work and that of several other Awe in Autism artists. The second event is on Sunday, April 10 at the Great Neck Arts Center in Great Neck, Long Island; this will feature the same Awe in Autism artists, plus a group of performers.
Sorry, I can’t show you the new video right now…however, I will post in on the Raven’s Wing Poetry YouTube channel after the events are over. I’m very excited at the opportunity for my work to be exhibited and to reach others and thank Awe in Autism for choosing to feature my work along with such talented artists on the autism spectrum.
Listen carefully. Hold your ear to the page
and hear the speech of hushed silence, how words
can rip a page apart if they are not careful. These little
black crispations carry swords and scissors – you just don’t know it
yet, and you won’t until you wake up the next morning and find
a small continent of blood, soaking in as a pillow stain
where your ear was resting all night.
There is a nook in the neck of the k where it
creased a crick while searching for a kiss, or for the end
of a bottomless ocean – that singular syllable made out of German slang
that I am very fond of using. But I will spare you X-rated fricatives
and give you the nectar from the nook instead. There is
also the curled come-hither of the c that looped itself
through the a hole in one of my earlobes after it snuck out of
my brain, and an n that strives to know how to fashion
the curve of its front leg after the curve of my nose. Every letter
is an escape artist – they all existed
as pictures projected onto the thick drive-in theater screen
made out of bone that stands behind my eyes. Everything
gets filed under vision.
This is what happens when speech becomes futile. You see,
I have three mouths – one on my face, one below my belt, and the
last one existing in the center of my brain. It grows teeth
as the words come, busting through bloody gums that eventually
send speech down the nerves of my arms and into my fingertips. Magically,
the teeth turn into type, this hushed silence
that you are reading right now. My brain is wired
to be a picture bank, a sound disc dictionary
that spins as the track to a thirty-four year-long movie
that has not yet ended or sent to the cutting room floor. It was
wired for me by invisible Asperger fingers that snuck inside my mother’s womb
while cell and soul were being knit together. And it is
wired for sound to be received through your eyes. Listen carefully. Don’t
read my lips. You won’t find anything there today.
This poem was one of the two specifically written for Autistics Speaking Day. The other, “Back Door Blues“, is over at Raven’s Wing Poetry. There is a list of other poems I am sharing today here. And hats off to everyone participating in Autistics Speaking Day.
As I mentioned in this post, I will be sharing poetry as my way of speaking on Autistics Speaking Day. I invite you to read the following poems today:
- Speech: I do it through poetry
- Back Door Blues: The NT’s don’t know but the autistics understand (this is about obsessive interests)
- Dear Earthling: A resident alien born without apologies
- Detonate: Sometimes a controlled explosion is best
- Letter to My Father: Inheritance is key
- Box: I am not afraid to show my scars and broken dolls (caution: may trigger)
- Unravel: I pull on my frayed ends so that you don’t
- Dust: Normal is overrated
- How to Paint the Mona Lisa: Leonardo, you sneak…
- You Don’t See It: My best statement about what having Asperger’s is like
Thank you everyone who is taking the time to read these poems today. We autistics *do* speak and communicate in various different ways. Hats off to everyone who is participating today — I will see you around the interwebs. And if you are sharing poetry today too, please don’t hesitate to post links to your work! You can leave them in the comments.
As you probably know, Autistics Speaking Day is tomorrow, November 1. Many of us on the spectrum have chosen this day to speak out instead of shut down, and The Coffee Klatch will be hosting a 24-Hour Chat on TweetChat tomorrow for Autistics Speaking Day. Also, other events and stuff may be happening too: feel free to check out the Autistics Speaking Day event page on Facebook for more info.
And I will be doing what I do best — poetry. I will be sharing some new poems I have written just for Autistics Speaking Day on here and Raven’s Wing Poetry, as well as sharing some other poems I’ve written in the past. I will post a list tomorrow of all of the poems here as well (so you don’t have to go a’diggin’) as well as Tweeting and posting on FB as much as possible. I look forward to joining everyone speaking out tomorrow in the Interwebs and Blogosphere and am honored to be part of such an event. Be LOUD and be PROUD on November 1!