This was written for Read Write Word #15 (and NaPoWriMo #27 – I am soooo behind!). These were words that I donated to RWP a while back. This was also inspired by Sarah’s poem written for the same prompt.

A little background information is in order: synesthesia is “a neurologically based phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway”, i.e. hearing colors (the definition was quoted from Wikipedia. I am heard that it can occur by itself (although I’m not entirely sure), but I am aware that individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome can experience synesthesia. I’m inclined to think that stuff lying within the Autism Spectrum is maybe less of a disorder and perhaps evident of neurodiversity within the human race (although I’m up for debate and discussion on the subject).

For more info on synesthesia, visit:

And now, on to the poem. Enjoy.


You once told me
that you heard

colors, that songs were leaking
tones of liquid pigment into
your ears. Like B flat – for you,
it was

faded watercolor
turquoise on a bleached canvas
above train tracks and clickety-clacks
that turned into black
lines clashing and beating each other
to death before your eyes
while the trains that gave birth to them
slid easily beneath your fingers
like a lover’s skin. Then came
chords: A minor was like

a pink and mauve sunset gone wrong –
exquisite, yet tolling the dawn
of nighttimes, endings, and sorrow:
a place on the horizon where
carmine and scarlet melt and
become former colors of
themselves, faded from the rivers
of their own tears. And G major

was like liquid sky – what auditory
cadence that you could discern in it
was of the inherent rightness of:

perfect square roots,
exact ninety-degree angles, and the
flawless ten-point-oh swan dive
of E = mc2 into a pacific pool the
perfect shade of Maya blue –
the kind that even makes sky jealous
enough to send hurricanes to rape
the water somewhere around
Cancer’s latitude lines – and that
pool is the same watery
womb from which

Einstein’s dreams

sprang. Your tunes are nascent,
your music is perfect, your songs
crystalline and springing forth
from invisible cranial wombs –
and I imagine them, all lined up
and jettisoning tonal children
forth into the cosmos

like prolific Liliths,
bearing blessing instead of the
miscreant bad names pinned
to them like brimstone Gehenna tails
upon wicked, misfit donkeys. I
weep for these children – for
their beauty – and I do not want
these products of your mind to
become orphans left to chance,
left to forgetfulness, merely
dismissed as specimens

of lunacy. I want to hear your
language labeled as backwards, collect
your impossible tonal chromatics into
winsome piggybanks, and then empty their
contents into my veins. Your mind is


in my sight, and I do not know
what the world will lose if genetic
muddlefuckery comes to pass
and breeds you, your kindred,
and your collective neurodiversity

out of existence

and into the oblivion
of memory.

Written 4/29/09
© 2009 Nicole Nicholson. All Rights Reserved.

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About ravenswingpoetry

I am a 38 year old writer from Columbus, OH and the creator of Raven's Wing Poetry. I am a poet, seeker, fellow traveler, and autistic.
This entry was posted in Asperger Poetry, NaPoWriMo 2009, Poems, Prompt Poems and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Synesthesia

  1. I’m fascinated by synesthesia (probably because I am so opposite, so literal). I like how you capture the experience with such concrete pictures. And I agree with you (and love the term) on neurodiversity. As a high school teacher, I learned from my students that there are many different ways to experience and express the world. Thanks for this.

  2. alysssa says:

    as a synesthesyte, i completely understand this poem- probably more than even i understand. written beauitfully, it captures everything,
    – although i do beg to differ, b flat is most certainly grass green vertical waves.

  3. yolanaafdou says:

    It’s a bit puzzing why some neurodiversity advocates attack kgaccount on you tube when the mum is clearly not in the same camp as vaccines caused my son’s autism group. I’ve seen her videos.

  4. “B flat is most certainly grass green vertical waves”
    I think it would be fascinating to hear two syntesthetes argue about the colors of sounds. Doesn’t everyone experience it differently? Or have I been misinformed?

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