February 2010 Read Write Poem Mini-Challenge Poem #4: You Don’t See It

You don’t see it, but some days
I drag moonlit danger behind me like a veil of milky dust
casting itself off of my crown. I balance
armies of fire on the backs of my arms and
use them for wings. I hear
the stars rubbing their legs together for the want of music
and hanging gold fiddled notes on Venus’ earlobes. They
chime, making love in the solar wind.
I strap bass lines onto my back;
wrap chain mail angels around my chest;
strap thunderclouds to the soles of my feet;
and I dance.

You wouldn’t know it,
but I have a thousand Heavens
and just as many Hells burning inside. You see
the computer mind, but not the
glass shatter heart. I sometimes wonder
if I am a transparent kachina in your line of sight, if you can
already see how much I burn; but you
always prove me wrong. You
try to unzip me, and see my eyes fleeing away from you
like startled ponies. Do you really
know me? If you did, you would know that
if I look at you too long, I might burst.

But you don’t know. And how can I tell you?
I consult the dictionary of human behavior every day.
I had to load it into my brain and make it learn
that you open doors with hello and
that you close them with goodbye. I had to learn
the mechanics of when to smile, when to laugh.
If I like you, I tear encyclopedia pages and pictures from off my walls
to give to you as gifts. And if I were to love you, I might
serenade you with music channeled from the
stereo installed into my brain that I first noticed
when I was ten.
But small talk still feels like grease on my
fingertips. And some days, I hear
my own voice rendered in Greek and wonder
when I will speak my own tongue again.

So I will speak my own dialect of
encyclopedia notes, photographs, trivia bank entries,
badly sung covers of the originals, words shaped
like arrows. There may be no smiles, no
dance of our eyes, no oil between us to make things
easier. That’s not how I work, and I am
not ashamed of this. And maybe some day, you will
see me dance.

Written 2/23/10

This is my fourth piece for the February 2010 Mini-Challenge over at Read Write Poem. This month’s challenge directed us to gather a poet’s work around us, pull out or underline lines we really liked, and then construct at least two centos, or patchwork poems (one each on days one and two, of course) from those lines. On day 3, we have the option of either writing another cento or parting ways with the lines and writing our own poems based on or inspired by our chosen poet. (And BTW, you can read all of my February Mini-Challenge Poems here.)

I chose to do a few things with this poem. For one thing, I noticed Rimbaud uses simpler, shorter concrete imagery — but his work is still very vivid and arresting — whereas I will try to paint you a huge picture. I tried to go shorter and simpler, yet still vivid. And I used a modified version of a quote from one of his other poems in this piece:

I have stretched ropes from steeple to steeple; garlands from window to window; gold chains from star to star; and I dance.

I also wrote it for Read Write Poem Prompt #115: What Do You Believe? I cheated a little, and didn’t make a list, BUT I know I believe heavily in the concept of neurodiversity and the right of a person to be as they are without having to try to fit in. Also, I’ve been reading a lot lately about Asperger’s Syndrome and ASD and with my therapist’s guidance have been exploring the possibility that I have Asperger’s. And if that is the case, then I don’t consider it being broken or something that needs to be fixed. That is what I believe. And so I let it also inform this poem.

Hope you enjoyed the read.



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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.
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23 Responses to February 2010 Read Write Poem Mini-Challenge Poem #4: You Don’t See It

  1. Irene says:

    Great write of Asperger’s. Liked the idea of speaking ‘my own dialect’. The last line nailed it for me, so sweet.

  2. ofheart says:

    Wow…blew me away with this one. My son has Asperger’s Syndrome, so I can totally relate. You dance in your individuality! Everyone is beautiful, and everyone has a different way to shine! Loved this!

  3. barbarayoung says:

    I can so relate to the “badly sung covers of the originals”.

  4. anthonynorth says:

    You’ve perfectly highlighted a serious problem here. Excellently done.

  5. rallentanda says:

    I enjoyed this and found it very interesting.Unfortunately we live in
    a society that does not celebrate difference and seems intent on turning us all into little grey men.It is difficult but we all find ways of surviving somehow and at the same time keeping ourselves in tact.I am glad you see yourself as someone not in need of repair.

  6. Paul Oakley says:

    I’m completely in unison with all what rallentanda wrote.

    Nicole, this poem absolutely blew me away. From the cosmic self-images of the first stanza to the mundane dictionary of human behavior, every image is rich and precise – and a revelation.

    Interesting that, with all the talk today about valuing and respecting diversity, there are many ways in which we’ve not come very far or even regressed. As if to say, we’ll accept the nominal differences so long as you act as if the more significant differences either don’t exist or aren’t so significant after all. We’re more likely to value the diversity of flavors of ice cream at the franchise shop down the street than value the diversity in real humans.

    I love this image: “You see/ the computer mind, but not the/ glass shatter heart.”

    When the moment is right, Nicole, dance with abandon!

  7. This is such an excellent fusion of… man, everything. Words and images and homages and allusions and rhythms; I love that you work on sizable canvas, because it’s the only fitting size for such a population of detail. My favorite lines…

    “But small talk still feels like grease on my
    fingertips. And some days, I hear
    my own voice rendered in Greek and wonder
    when I will speak my own tongue again”

    I don’t want to make assumptions, but my guess is that not everyone commenting on here has Asperger’s, yet everyone can still find that element to relate to. That shows two things: that people disjointed from what’s “normal” or “correct” are closer to our own experience than we realize, and that you do a wonderful job of drawing in your reader and making hir understand the point.

  8. rob kistner says:

    Wow Nicole, you unfurled your soul in this piece. Powerful and honest… bravo to you.

    I don’t fully understand Aspergers, but I have lived with ADHD, unknowingly for the first 52 years of my life – and now learning to understand and manage it effectively for the past 11 years. It kicked my life around for a long time, but I learned to cope on my own, as apparently you have as well. The syndromes are different, but they manifest themselves similarly in a few areas, such as, to cite one, speaking out and acting out “unfiltered” at times in social or professional situations. And I know the mind music well. You clearly understand the most important point — be who the hell you are with no damned apology or shame. Go for it Nicole!


  9. wayne says:

    great….we are ALLLLLLLLLLLLLL diffrent….I love it….I just cam back from Vancouver and winter olympics…and my old home town is pretty diverse..IMO I believe…anyways…nicely done and again thanks for sharing your words

  10. Neil Reid says:

    For some unknown, I don’t want to talk today. However. No one counts the stars, or needs to, and each elemental at root the same, yet a thousand thousand ways to stir the bowl, and each in unique in space makes a universe. Just exactly like we are. I like your poem Nicole. It speaks well.

  11. Tumblewords says:

    Below our samenesses are the ghosts of difference, some known and some not. Intriguing poem!

  12. Nicole,
    This is a beautifully done piece of work. I truly enjoyed every word. Thanks for sharing.


  13. James says:

    I love the way you treat the stars in the 1st stanza… rubbing their legs together for the want of music… beautiful, indeed.

    I like the honesty with which you allow your discoveries about yourself to inform your writing. Very nicely done. Great read.

    I love the new site design and the www chapbook is a really good concept. I might have to steal that idea 🙂

  14. rhiannonproblematising says:

    Very nicely done.

  15. Erin says:

    I’m glad we are able to “know it” through this poem. I love how you unfurl yourself before our eyes here, and I think I would like anyone who straps basslines to her back and thunderclouds to the sould of her feet. Wow!

  16. Wow, guys. THANK YOU EVERYONE. I am touched at not only your comments about the poem, but also about your support.

    I guess there’s a lot of my personal experience that informs my poetry, whether it’s all the moving around as a child, or growing up multiracial in a somewhat racially and socioeconomically divided small town, or…or… you get my point. I think we are all a body of work and we keep pulling lines from ourselves to create our works. So this is no different.

    And on my journey goes. Whether I get an official diagnosis or not, I am ok. I would only want to understand how I work, and like I said, not fix it. You could say that these days society as a whole is too interested in making everyone normal. I’m willing to bet that at least 75% of the poets, writers, artists, musicians, and even if you extend to prophets, visionaries, shamans, etc…were “not” normal in some way shape or form. Just to speak to Asperger’s alone: Dan Akroyd comes to mind, and it’s been suggested that Mozart, Einstein, and Lewis Carrol were Aspies. Of course, we don’t know for certain, since you can’t diagnose dead people. And even if they weren’t, well then, they were eccentric, and there’s something in that eccentricity that lends itself to talent and creativity. Not saying that everyone with some sort of talent has to be eccentric, but you get my point.

    Enough for now, and again, THANK YOU everyone. Hope to see you around.


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  23. What a powerful exposition. Thank-you.

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