This Chapbook is called More Than What You See. It is about my struggle with Dyslexia. I have been posting the poems but I want everyone to read it. So here it is in full and free.
Prologue: The Cherry Tree
Have you ever waded
through a vat of mud
knowing how hard it was
going to be to move,
or how deep you
would have to go?
I have. It gets thicker
and harder to push through.
It gets so thick it’s
nearly solid earth.
The sticks, rocks, and stones
scratch and penetrate as they grind
by your skin, as you heave each limb
forward pulling your torso with them.
Do you know what it feels
like to struggle against this force?
As you drown in its thick soil
you can’t talk or breathe.
You just keep going until-
your head breaks
the surface tension,
gasping for respiration.
at the base of the cherry tree,
your only ambition
before you, barren, save for
one cherry that you
can never imagine unless
ingested by your taste buds.
You look on
to see other cherry trees.
Vast is the distance between them.
You advance knowing what
it is to get there but
curious as to what you
will find and where,
or who, you’ll end up being.
When I think of my
mother telling me
how I was born
I imagine the doctor walking
down the hallway
into her room
in a tantrum
for he had to miss
his church service
to help my mother
Some “sunny side”
I wasn’t on.
He grabbed my head
and flipped me
with little care,
to quicken my birth
to get to his church.
I was born with his
around my head…
My mother said.
“No, she’s not.”
When she first tried to feed me
I would pass out.
She was just a
He said smugly
walking out in a hurry
without a thought or care
of what he might have done.
Made my dyslexia worse
for the sake of his church.
…The nice way of saying
you have to repeat kindergarten.
None of my other friends were there,
only my stuffed duck,
a little blue scarf around its neck
nearly squeezed out its stuffing
I held it so dearly to me.
I remember having to let it go
the teachers voice like an echo now
urging me to put it down.
It may have made me weirder than the rest.
It was all I had to comfort me
and I let it go.
I made a friend then,
a boy. I don’t remember his name
but I remember seeing him
at the company Christmas party
for the local cops.
He was the boss’s son.
My father was there to impress
I remember my brother
standing to the right of me
when the boy said he would
get ten dollars if his two front teeth
fell out together.
“So, let’s play karate.”
He said, excited.
I kicked him in the mouth.
I remember the look of awe
on my brothers face,
his mouth wide open.
The Boss’s son ran to his mom crying
with his hand over his mouth
she took a look, and sighed,
“Well, they’re supposed to fall out anyway.
Go on, tell Silvaan you’re okay.”
There was a lot of blood.
When he dropped his hand under his chin
his two front teeth nestled perfectly in his palm.
“Yh’m okayh, Seelven.”
My mother asked,
“Why did you do that?”
“I just wanted to help.”
I said crying;
not understanding the explosion
of panic in the room.
I cried as I held my mother closer
and all the cops ran for cover.
I look back and laugh.
Dyslexia can affect so many things
in the thinking process.
But it’s also possible because of how
I was born that I have dyspraxia
making the processing of thoughts
what would have happened if I hadn’t
let go of that little yellow duck?
My first grade teacher.
She was a short woman
with short hair.
She wore a flowery shirt and
navy blue jeans to cover her oddly square butt,
each cheek a perfect shape
to fit the classroom chairs.
I hated her.
One day we all sat on the floor
her square butt on a square chair
passing a book to read
as I dreaded my turn
for everyone else
could read with ease
which was my fantasy.
I read with such difficulty,
stalling and stammering
on the simplest of words.
Such as “the” “what” and “with”.
I tried to ignore the annoyance
from my peers, stiffening the air.
The shame and humiliation building
causing my hands to shake.
Elongated “okaaay” from the teacher,
my signal to pass it to the next.
Made me feel so foolish.
I hated her.
When she tested me with a timer
tapping her finger
over the word
“the” I couldn’t remember
what the “T-H” sounded like.
Tears began to fall
as the panic of being
stupid and wrong
began to settle in.
She yelled while tapping
“I know you know this, Silvaan!
I know you do!”
Made my mind freeze.
I don’t think I ever
remembered the word.
as the timer kept ticking,
Mostly I can remember
how much I
Then she came to my house in summer
with work for me to do.
My mother met her outside.
She handed my mother homework for me
so I could be ready for second grade.
asking, “Where is Silvaan?”
My mother said plainly.
“She doesn’t want to see you.”
She looked shocked having no idea
that not only did I hate her…
I was afraid of her.
Fourth Grade Evaluation
I remember bits and pieces of it.
The pattern she showed me,
I could not decipher then,
now has faded completely.
What I remember the most
was how my mother fished for
more of an answer than just,
“I am a ‘learning disability.’”
I remember how the woman answered
voice rushed as if, overheard,
she would be fired.
“Twenty years ago your daughter
would be severely dyslexic.”
Now I’m weirder than ever.
Now I’m a stupid girl with a fancy label.
I am in this world where I am weird,
created for the teasing of my peers.
I don’t want to be weird.
I want to be me, but
who am I at this desk
if not a weird dyslexic?
My mother however, told me when I asked,
“What does ‘dyslexic’
“It means you have to be
really smart to be dyslexic.”
Sadly, the good things said
are often drowned out by the bad…
for I was a Learning Disability
to everyone who taught me.
“Hopeless”, they thought as they threw out
my test scores to make their
school look smarter.
Thrown into a room with two others
that knew no other label. Really,
just a learning disability?
Pulled out of class
to do work with the Special teacher…
Now I am special? Another way of saying
now I am a weird-stupid-learning-disability.
Another would tell my mother I was…”So severe”
that I would never learn to write or read.
Never amount to anything…
freak…is all I heard.
For years my imagination
and emotions were my only
bridge to understanding words
But one time in fifth grade
my imagination became helpful for once
when a boy sitting next to me
asked the teacher
for a calculator.
“Use the calculator
attached to your spine
between your ears
and behind your eyes.”
I leaned over
placing my hand
to cover my lips
from the teachers view
I began to giggle
as the teacher’s
in my ears.
The boy was still
confused. I guess
he couldn’t see the dots
and connect them
like my imagination could.
Wa-eel-kuh-uh-um tuh-ooo mmm-ahheee wah-oh-er-el-duh
Ss-uh-mm pee-puh-el duh-oh-en-Te en-oh huh-ow huh-aw-er-deh eh-tuh eh-ss te-ooo buh-eee
Ss-uh-mm pee-puh-el thee-en-kuh ahee geh-uh-s-te ss-wah-eh-chuh
ehl-eh-tuh-er-ss uh-er-ow-en-duh, oh-er wah-en ahee tuh-ah-kuh fuh-or-eh-ve-er tuh-oo duh-oo Ss-uh-mm-theh-en-geh, oh-er tuh-oo er-ee-duh Ss-uh-mm-theh-en-geh, oh-er ss-AAA Ss-uh-mm-theh-en-geh oh-er duh-oh-en-Te uh-en-duh-er-ss-AAA-en-duh AAA wuh-er-duh th-AAA sss-AAA.
Ahee AAHH-mm puh-ehl-eh-en-geh wah-eh-th th-eh-mm, oh-er geh-uh-s-te
Ss-uh-mm pee-puh-el duh-oh-en-Te en-oh wah-te duh-eiah-ss-ehl-eh-ex-ee-ah eh-ss
thee-en-kuh eh-te-ss aaa-en-oh-th-er mmm-ah-er-kuh oh-en th-uh sss-peh-eh-kuh-te-eruh-mm oh-ff aw-te-eh-ss-mmm
Aaa-en-duh te-er-ee-tuh mm-eee ehl-eh-kuh ahee AAA-mmm th-er-eee
Buh-eee-kuh-aw-sss oh-ff eh-Te
Ss-uh-mm pee-puh-el thee-en-kuh th-AAA en-oh eh-ve-er-ee-th-eh-engeh ah-buh-oh-uh-te duh-eiah-ss-ehl-eh-ex-ee-ah buh-te
Uh’ehl-tuh-mm-eh-te-uh-ehl-ee en-oh en-uh-th-eh-en-geh AAA-enduh te-ee-tuh mmm-eee
El-ahee-kuh ahee AAA-mm ss-te-uh-pee-eh-duh en-ee-wah-eee
Ahee buh-eh-te eh-ff Ss-uh-mm pee-puh-el wah-uh-ehl-deh er-ee-ehl-eee tuh-er-ahee-duh te-ooo er-ee-duh th-uh puh—oh-eh-mm buh-ee-fuh-oh-er,
eh-te-ss ahh-ehl-er-eh-deh-eee sss-ow-en-deh-eh-duh ow-te ff-oh-er yuh-ooo,
yuh-ooo kuh-ow-ehl-deh uh-en-duh-er-ss-AAA-en-duh eh-tuh
Wa-eel-kuh-uh-um tuh-ooo mmm-ahheee wah-oh-er-el-duh…
Welcome To My World
Some people don’t know how hard it is to be me.
Some people think I just switch
letters around, or when I take forever to do something or read something,
or say something, or don’t understand a word they say
I am playing with them or just
Some people don’t know what dyslexia is,
think it’s another mark on the spectrum of autism
and treat me like I am three
because of it.
Some people think they know everything about dyslexia, but
ultimately they know nothing and treat me
like I am stupid anyway.
I bet if some people would really try to read the poem before,
(It’s already sounded out for you)
you could understand it,
Welcome to my world…
I don’t forget words, they just get lost.
Sometimes the definition is lost
but not the word.
Sometimes the definition
but the word is lost.
Sometimes all I have is a sense of it;
not a definition or a word
so then I play a game of charades…
I stared into her wide eyes
and Cheshire grin.
“Did you like the service?” she asked.
as if I had the mental
capacity of a three year old.
Two thoughts rolled around my head.
The former in a game of charades…
The latter was more prominent
“Why the fuck is she
talking to me like this?”
Suddenly the former won the game,
“Oh, yeah. I did.”
I looked to my mother;
on her face as the new minister
of our church slowly nodded.
letting go of my hand
after petting it
This woman’s reaction was new
Later that evening it hit me.
“Mom. Did you tell her, I was dyslexic?”
She chuckled in realization.
“Yes, I did. Wow.”
I am sure my delayed reaction
only encouraged her misconception,
but whatever happened
to asking questions?
The process to understand the words
is the problem, not the words themselves.
For the first ten years or more
of my life I hardly spoke a word.
Never fast enough for my
family, or others.
If I could talk in emotion and visions
then I could talk your limbic system off.
Instead, I sat back and watched.
Trying to learn to speak
these feelings inside me,
I knew them only at that level.
Watch and listen at school.
At the grocery store.
As my mother tells her stories
at the Wild Rose Moon Festival.
I would sit in the audience
and listen to the stories she told
and watch the people
walk around the festival
dressed in pioneer clothing…
and wearing comfortable sneakers.
I understood their behavior
better than their words
for the process was slow then.
Friends would greet me
and their verbalization would enter my ears.
turn into emotions, into visions,
which I translated to, “Hello, how are you?”.
My language is emotion.
It whirls around my torso up to my head
running through the visions and memorized terms.
My brain then places sensation and expression
together, hopefully in order and I say
“I’m doing okay.”
Heaven forbid they ask me to read aloud.
Whether it be words written by my hand
or by others, I still fear the stares
when I stammer or stall before a word.
It’s still the process to understand
that’s the problem.
not the words themselves.
The Process: II
It can be hard
when I am nervous.
My heart feels like
it will break my chest
and I can barely think
until a little chuckle
passes through their lips.
When I can utter
a few funny words
I can relax
my beating heart
a little bit.
It is harder when I am angry.
I don’t remember how it came about
but I remember how angry I was when he talked about
going out with me because I was dyslexic, “Who else would?”
A storm in the shape of my torso whirled
inside me but I said I was “fine”.
unable to put words to the storm
until pen hit paper with a vengeance
and I could say, “I don’t need your pity”.
Harder still when I am frightened.
Twice the same boy I barely knew
wrapped his hands around my wrists
trying to pull me on to the floor to dance.
First time I shook my head
and I said nothing.
My fist firmly clenched
my dead weight pulling,
is what saved me.
The second time.
Next to the boyfriend above
I pulled away not saying anything,
my boyfriend doing nothing but laughing
Only when I was able to utter “no”
through the fearful restriction in my throat
did he stop him, still laughing
Should have left that boyfriend then.
Months later I did leave him.
But the emotions whirling
with the slow processing
didn’t help quicken my leaving.
It’s tough in school
but not just because
Of homework or school work.
It can be tough
mostly new friends…
Once I was talking to a new friend
online. I was having “girl issues”
and was complaining about this
throughout the majority of the conversation.
They were horrible.
I was doubled over,
painkiller wasn’t working.
She didn’t want to talk about it.
“My friends and I don’t talk about cramps.”
“Really?! I thought every girl
talked to their girl friends
about this stuff?”
“No, they don’t talk about that stuff…”
“Okay,” I said
and we went on to talk about something else.
It wasn’t until we signed off
that I realized something.
But first there is something
you need to know about dyslexics.
Sometimes we see what we think we wrote
not what we actually wrote.
After she signed off that filter was gone
and I realized I forgot the “m” in “cramps”
Even when she wrote back to me
“My friends and I don’t talk about craps.”
I still didn’t see it.
I put my face in my hands
embarrassed but laughing.
I went to school the next day
and had to tell her that I was dyslexic.
I was nervous not sure how
she was going to react.
Will she think I am stupid?
Will she stop talking to me
because I am different?
Will she decide to jump on fresh meat
and tease me?
She did none of the above
but I wish I could have pulled
the Jedi Mind Wave
and make her believe “cramps”
is what I really said.
High School: II
Oh but the embarrassment doesn’t end.
I brought a tangerine to school.
One friend asked, “What is it?”
“It’s a little virgin-vir-vir-ver-sion
of an orange.” but before I could finish
they were already laughing.
“It’s a little virgin!”
Once there were
two boys fighting in the hallway.
One punch to his weak chin,
he fell over,
his legs bent under him.
He wasn’t moving.
Someone from the stunned crowd said,
“Hey you okay?”
(no, he’s not)
my thought answered.
The puncher had walked away.
I couldn’t talk.
“Should he be laying like that?”
someone else asked.
(no, he shouldn’t)
But I still couldn’t speak.
Someone has to say something.
My mind raced trying
to find the right words.
Seemed like forever
before my mind unlocked and I could yell
“Mr. Snider we have a problem!”
I sat at my assigned table
The majority that sat with me
were black girls.
talking about the KKK rally
that was going on.
“They so ugly.”
“Yeah, they got
missin’ teeth n’ shit.”
“They keep messing with black people”
They all stopped talking and looked at me.
Then I realized
the process was quicker than I thought that day
and I had said that out loud.
I was aware of my mouth
zipping shut as panicking
thoughts cascaded through my mind
and I suddenly found the sheet of paper
in front of me very interesting.
They all burst out laughing
Nodding their heads
at what I said…
and just once
subsided a little bit.
In real life I listen to a song while
lip syncing, wiggling my hips
as I walk to the beat.
While in my mind I am a force
to be reckoned with.
I can do all that I wish
with no fear.
I can spit the words out
as quick, if not quicker
than the singer.
I can rock the audience
with my body,
push and pull them
wherever I wish
with an ease to make
Unlike in my real life
The real me hides in my personally
perceived grotesque body.
When someone walks by
I force still my wiggling hips
and quiet my softly
…You say to me,
and you have plunged me
into the deepest part
of the bluest sea
and I can’t see a light
to the right
my only horizon,
but I dare not say
that I don’t know,
for the water is made
of the tears of their laughter.
I must rattle my brain to think
Tap right…Tap left
Shake my head
That’s not right
I screwed it up again.
I shake my head and
I repeat it over and over
as the tears from their laughter
began to warm the sea around me,
I try to ignore
and think, for the quicker I remember
which is right, the quicker
my ears become deaf to their laughter.
I repeat it again
and this time I got it right.
Laughter doesn’t ever silence until after
they are done prodding “took you long
enough”… “was that so hard.”
they say as they
wipe their tears away.
When emotions are your language
it is hard to concentrate
on the process, for the mud is stained
with blood and pain.
I couldn’t stop myself from crying
when others would ask if I was okay.
Hard to translate words I write and read.
When blood in the mud would grab my attention
thinking of the “what ifs” and “how could he’s”
that shattered my walls.
I was left alone.
No friends to hold
me when I cried;
to try to rebuild
the walls of my heart
that he consumed.
I ate to fill the cracks
that my tears couldn’t caulk
in order to do the work I needed to.
But the cracks in the walls around my heart
were always in the back of my mind.
Each week a new draft of three pages.
Each week a new paper in full.
C pluses or minuses are all I get in return, for the
wheels have been grinding through the toughest
mud I have ever felt. The worst it’s ever gotten
as I barrel through the words I write and read
putting aside all hopes of being a writer.
I cry myself to sleep.
(I’ll never write another story again.) I think.
No one knows why I am the way I am.
“What is wrong,” you ask, as I am crying
on the floor in a fetal position,
back against the wall, in a dark room.
I want to answer. I want to say
that I am being consumed by
my limits to the point that I,
I try and say it, but it—
hits the wall in my throat
choking me with a horrible sound.
Gives way to louder sobbing as I dig my
fingers into my scalp, folding
further into my fetal position.
My whole body heaving with
the burden of my limitations
“What is it?” you say worried
and annoyed. Doesn’t help my frustration.
“I” the word made it past the wall
the rest gave way to more choking
and coughing as I continue crying,
my whole body convulsing with sobs.
“Well, spit it out.” I grab
what I can and throw it
at you screaming nothing in
english, trying to chase you away
because you are not helping or getting it.
“Go-away” I struggle to say through my sobs,
yet easier through the barrier.
“Fine! Don’t have to be a bitch about it!”
I have no energy to throw anything and I scream
as I wrap my arms around my mouth
letting my screams and sobs
be muffled in my sleeves
to hide the shame
of what I have done.
While the years of stupidity, usually
in the back seat of my mind,
cave in on me.
I rock back and forth, my spine and ribs
hitting the cement wall
hoping the twinges of pain will loosen
the barrier from my larynx,
so I can tell you that I am just really dyslexic
at this moment.
I want to say,
that “I am sorry. Come back
I’m just frustrated.
Another story is primed to be written
but I have another draft to write,
I am not meant to drive
because the days when the mud
in my mind has solidified
the wheels in my head
slow so much
I can stop in mid thought and movement.
Could mean that too many
signals have overwhelmed my system.
My brain stops in an intersection
and there would be nothing I can do
to stop you from
if that’s what it comes to.
Five days of Driver’s Training:
I was terrified
when a cop pulled in
the parking lot as I was turning.
I worried that he would pull me over,
ask for my permit.
see the picture on my driver’s license
and arrest me because I looked drunk in it;
pretty stupid now that I look back at it.
But I was driving pretty bad.
The car started going one way then the other
weaving through a parking lot
at the movie theater
I lost all sense of direction.
She was saying something to me but I couldn’t hear
and then I did, “Stop!” she said over and over
but I couldn’t get my body to do what I needed.
When I was able to stop I started to cry.
I wasn’t ready for this.
I never liked the idea of driving.
I never had the urge to drive
like so many of my friends.
I didn’t want to do it
and I was too freaked out to continue
so I went home early.
I tried the next week
things went better for a while
until the fifth day.
I cried in the end
after my brain stalled again
while turning into a side street.
I had to move my right foot
from the brake onto the gas
Everything in my brain stopped.
It hit a wall of thick mud.
and I realized, it felt the same
doesn’t matter how long
I have known the word,
or how long I walked
No matter what I do
my brain will always stall
with a word and now even a car.
No clear understanding
as to why.
There is nothing I can do
it’s better to stay
away from the wheel
for it’s not that simple.
At the time, I couldn’t wrap my mind around it
but I was depressed.
I could barely think to do laundry,
shower, or take care of my pets let alone do
all the reading-writing classes I didn’t know I would have.
“Students said, you smell like an animal.”
A peer told the supervising professor…
to stay close as I massaged her
afraid I would hurt her again.
The first I had heard about it.
She said it…like I wasn’t there.
I was the one that no one wanted
to be partnered with and talked about
behind my back because I stunk
Massage Therapy: II
My summer professor,
and the supervising professor,
standing behind her,
tested my knowledge after
nearly 2 years.
It was almost done
but the emotions
did not want to meet my brain.
Tears threatened at the edge of my lids.
I hear nothing from her moving lips.
I am dead weight in the mud of my limitations
and because of this, I can’t explain any of this away.
The words met my ears
but the process could go no farther
to answer her question.
“Never amount to anything…
freak” my insecurities spat.
I tried not to panic in the face of
my professor’s pleading look
and the supervisor’s smugness aimed at her back.
When I couldn’t answer
my professor’s face fell.
The supervisor took me
Into the hallway and said
“You passed this test by the skin of your teeth,
Maybe you should find some other major.”
I walked away as the walls crumbled
underneath their disapproving stares.
I failed everyone and… myself
and it sickened me to my core.
Truth was, I wanted to help people
but I didn’t want to touch
naked people for the rest of my life.
What else can I do?
Psychology intrigues me
as much as the classes scare me.
I can wrap my mind around it all now,
I just needed time.
If only I knew that then.
One day I came out of my room
exhausted from all that was happening.
I saw my mother sitting on the couch
but my stepfather wasn’t around.
“Where is Bruce?” I asked.
She told me and
I shook my head in shock
She said it again.
“He went to the pawn shop
to get an oboe.”
I breathed in relief.
“I thought you said
‘he went to the porn shop
to get an elbow.'”
and we both burst out in laughter.
My mother looked at me when she could
manage to talk a little and said, “an elbow?!”
then doubled over in laughter again.
I shrugged with my hands up,
“Well, it works doesn’t it
‘elbow’ ‘oboe’ what’s the diff.”
I said, sarcastic.
We laughed again.
Sometime after my mother’s laughter
died down and I was laughing
off and on
Bruce walked in,
“Oh, lets tell him!”
I said excitedly.
But before we could say a word
Bruce said, “Better selection there
than anything I found on the internet.”
Before my mother could fully comprehend
what he said. I was on the kitchen
floor laughing my ass off again.
My mother, followed suit.
I knew I didn’t miss-hear that.
I stare at a piece of paper
and pin pen willing myself to pick it up
but I cannot.
I can barely think, let alone write.
I love psych-call-ah-gee
I find it fas-a-nat-ing
but the classes take
so much of my energy.
I would have been done
with the story
I have had in my mind
since I was fifteen.
If I could funk-shun
but I can’t. I am pleeding pleading
to whatever God is listing listening
to help me pass my classes.
I can’t fail this major like the last.
I don’t know if my pride
can handle that so I push on
past my writing and through
the muddy brick
that splits my head in twine
because I need to pass my glasses classes.
I stare at a plank blank document
To write a paper; the cursor flashing,
what else can I do?
When I handed in my cut
and paste magazine project
the teacher asked,
“Are you an art major?”
I said “No”
“You should be.
You’re very good.”
Maybe I could.
As a child I painted
off and on, whenever I had
the energy and time,
which was not much.
It took so much to move
through the mud of school
my energy was drained.
The T.V. the only art
I wished to see.
I didn’t have to think
to see it.
“Lazy,” they said.
I didn’t want to be
but the thought
was just too exhausting.
Not that good at art anyway;
or so I thought…
But Maybe I could paint?
I just couldn’t handle the workload
of Psychology classes,
my passion wasn’t in it.
So, I left the drain of Psychology
for a little paint
As a kid
I sat on the couch
my math paper in my stepfather’s hands.
My mom and I spent
God knows how long
to get it right.
Like paper through a typewriter
my math moved through his fingers.
Every time he said “wrong”
to another equation I have to do again
the tears welled up in my eyes
and I sank into the cushions
wanting more than anything
to run and hide from my math problems.
For I wasn’t and will never be
I always wished I could be.
It seems She is everywhere
in many faces and forms
as friends and acquaintances.
She who can do it all with little help.
I hated help. I wanted to be Her because
She is right
I am wrong
She is cool and social with ease
but I stutter when I speak.
I wish I were able to write
a three page paper
in one night like Her
instead of taking three weeks or more.
I wish I could tell the professor
I struggled to stay below the maximum
word count like Her
instead of struggling
to reach the minimum.
I wish I could say those words
over the two inch thick
book on my desk
and continue reading
after I am done talking.
I wish I were always right, like Her.
Help is something
I can’t run away from
although I have tried.
But to this day
when I see people like Her
I feel the equation
that equals my Being
will always be Wrong.
Soon an itch began to scratch
in a spot of my soul out of my reach.
I was curious though and took the chance.
Writing creatively for a credit of three
to see if those swirls and squiggles
I use to write before I knew how
could be a sign that I was meant to be a writer.
But am I a good writer?
Once, I couldn’t find the meaning of a word
in the slew of memorizations in my mind
in front of a published girl I knew.
“and you want to be a writer?”
She said laughing.
Maybe she is right,
or maybe she isn’t.
I explain to the teacher my “condition.”
(like it’s so serious. But isn’t it?)
Despite my mother’s offers,
I refuse to let anyone else
edit my work
save for the teacher.
Can’t stop her and I didn’t want to.
I wanted to see if I am a good writer.
I wasn’t sure until I saw the grade
for my short story. She loved it. More-so the
end, but took ten points off
for all the usual mistakes I make.
I couldn’t believe it. Yes!
Years of C’s and B’s
and I got an A minus.
Maybe it is not so foolish
to believe that I could do this,
be a writer after all.
For no matter how often I think it foolish
the writing itch will always need to be scratched
“How hard is it to lookup words?”
my first art professor asked the class
with a chuckle, complaining
about student emails.
I laughed with everyone else
hoping to hide the shame
and the tears that threatened.
She proceeded to explain
how some students in college can’t
spell or write
to save their lives
or can’t seem to be able
to use a dictionary.
I swallowed my tears
willing my gut to believe
that she wasn’t talking about me.
Old insecurities still whispered,
but you spell those words wrong too.
I realized I wasn’t breathing.
(She doesn’t know you.)
But my insecurities said
don’t you remember…
the time you failed an assignment
because you thought the word
wasn’t in the dictionary?
(I just got the letters switched
around in my head.
It happens all the time)
She didn’t listen to your plea
and failed you anyway.
I shook those thoughts to the back
of my mind. (It doesn’t matter,
she isn’t talking about me
or my failed assignment
with the dictionary.)
I swallowed my tears dry.
it’s not her, it’s me
thinking this way.)
But what she said
was burned into my memory
and, emails? I never sent her any.
What’s My Problem?
I’ll tell you what my problem is
I can’t freaking sp-sp-sp-p-p-eak!
Yet you think it helpful to correct me
pressuring me to repeat
with what little energy
I am having a hard time thinking
as you should tell from my
If you would stop asking
maybe you could start listening.
But I can’t tell you how I feel
or argue my point
because I don’t have the words
to explain it at the moment;
hard to think with your badgering questions
so I s-su-uccumb to your winning-
Now, I have the words.
It doesn’t matter
how much you explain
that I am not stupid
or down play your talking
down to me.
You still explain
“want” and “went”—
“than” and” then”—
“effect” and “affect”—
“men” and “man”—
as if it’s easy
with your mocking tone.
“What’s your problem?”
like it is not that hard.
You know nothing of hard.
Doesn’t matter the amount of empathy
you muster. You will never be me.
But you’re teasing
me for something
I have no control over.
Emotion is all I remember
of your hurtful words.
but it’s a moot point.
No sense in bringing up old
is my verbal answer
to your question.
belting me with questions.
That only force me into
instead of just
I just want to be left alone
instead of being asked what my problem is.
I am more verbal than you think.
I am just too tired to
It’s not good when every time
someone asks you what
you’re doing with your degree,
it’s never what your degree is for.
“So, you wanna be a massage therapist?”
“So you wanna be a psychologist?”
“So you wanna be an artist?”
No, not really to all.
Still alright at massage.
Ok psychologist if
I had the patience.
I am an ok painter,
be better if I had more
time to spare…
The 10,000 hours rule,
my art teacher told me,
to be the best at
what you want to be.
But I am too busy trying to write.
I have been at it for over ten years
and more hours than I can count.
It’s easier now; less classes to write and read for.
So, I can finally write what I wish during the week
and not just the weekend.
Last few semesters
I am better than I ever was when
it comes to taking tests.
I breathe when overwhelmed
and concentrate on nothing
but what I know.
After reading the question
I try not to think too much
until I reach slightly harder ones.
Next, I tackle the hardest of them all,
the ones where I have no clue.
I breathe when I get up from the desk
and hand the teacher my test.
I don’t worry too much
because now I know that doing my best is
going to be good enough to pass.
I can always master it later
if I feel the urge to do so.
After my last few semesters.
I would have given a notice of disability
to my last professor
in my college career
but I knew I wasn’t going to need it.
One day that professor
asked me to read a paragraph
to the class.
I sat there stalling for time before reading
trying to calm the nervous heat
that crawled up my neck.
(Maybe I should have given him the notice.)
I thought before I began.
I heard a voice reading with ease
slow, a little awkward,
but not stalling
until the word “abide”
and someone quickly
saved me. I thanked them
and kept going.
When I was done I waited
for the stares in my direction,
to feel the shame
but none of it happened.
I used to agonize over those situations
analyzing what I did wrong
and how I could have done it all differently.
I didn’t do any of that.
Giving Notice: II
The last class was over
and I held my diploma in my hand, tears in my eyes
but I didn’t want to cry.
I am a graduate.
Why should I?
I went back home with a smile on my face.
yet it was hard for me to celebrate
for the “What now?” the age-old question
nagged at me. School was my job
and summer was my time to recoup.
I was now a graduate with no experience
besides volunteering at my mother’s
elementary school library.
Ironic, for I have always had an aversion to libraries.
Never felt like I belonged there.
I took over for a summer once for a few weeks paycheck.
The only job I ever had.
That was four years ago.
I thought it was hopeless
but I tried. I applied to several places
one of them, a local art and education supply store.
They called me back after a few days.
I was so excited and nervous.
When she asked for me to come in
for a twelve minute test.
I sat down at her desk
and told her that I was “dyslexic”
the second I said it her eyes glazed over.
(I am screwed) I thought
but I pushed that aside
and answered the questions
in the allotted time.
She took the test and left the room
to check the answers.
A few minutes later she came back.
“If we have any more questions
we’ll get back to you.”
She smiled sweetly, but I knew
they we never going to call me.
I felt so foolish for even saying the word
“dyslexic” I walked out feeling ashamed
and embarrassed again.
People don’t give the benefit of the doubt.
They believe the gist of a definition
they heard decades ago
as the end all and be all
of your intelligence.
Should I have begged for a chance?
I should have learned my lesson
and not given the notice.
A Journey Ends
The frustrations of my
limitations will never end,
they will only lessen
for there is always a way
it’s just not everyone else’s
and there is always more
to be found in the trees and cherry’s.
I have reached the end
of this tunnel of mud.
A new tunnel has begun.
This one is deeper
but brighter than the one before.
I wonder what lessons
it will hold and where it goes…
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