Some poetry on Autism, mental health and life in general

Hi good people of blog land.

I thought it might be nice to put some of my favourite poems into blog format so anyone who likes my poetry can see a good amount.  know I pop the occasional poem in things but this will be more af a Jeanette’s recently poetry anthology. Ooh, I can;t wait….

Here’s a few of my Autism-specific ones, I actually was named a ‘distinguished finalist’ in the Local Gems National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) 2015 competition on the strength of some of these. I choose Autism advocacy as my topic and wrote one poem a day for the month of April. It was challenging especially as April tends to be a busy month for me, but I got it finished and it yielded some lovely poems.

My past and me

Now

I am your success story

Your example

Your role model

You pay to hear my wisdom

How can this be?
Then

I am broken

Afraid

A lost cause

Example of what not to be

A cautionary tale

A mistake

A fallen thing

A tragic thing

Hopeless

Futureless

Yet here I am.
I look back

I find that other I

There she is

There I am

‘Come with me’

I reach out my hand down the years

Connecting, just.
I hold her

I am you

You are me

She buries her sorrow in my chest

And we become whole.

Tragedy and triumph together

She is with me and I am with her

Reconciled.

Not fixed but learning.

I don’t want your cure

I don’t want your cure

I am not broken

I don’t not belong condemned to the genetic dustbin

I am not less

My world is not ‘wrong’

My communication not ‘lacking’

My interests not ‘obsessive’.

I am not a tragedy

Not the product of a cruel God

Not something to be fixed.
I am myself

I am proud and beautiful

My reality as valid as your reality

My experience my own.

I love my world

This world I share with others like me

The only tragedy in my life is hatred

People too small to see my value

To sad to delight in my quirks
You want a cure

Which part of mine will you cure?

Will you cure my talent?

The brilliance of my pen

The clarity of my wit?

Will you take my life and remove all the ‘broken’ bits?

All the life I have lived

The wisdom gained through horror and loss?

The love and kindness left when the fires of abuse and terror died?

Will you take my compassion

My empathy

My love for the Other?

What of me would you leave behind from your cure?
No. I don’t want your cure.

I want your understanding, your ear, free of judgement.

I am human

There is no cure for humanity save death

And that is hardly a cure.

Mum

My mum is not the average mum

She never gossiped with her girlfriends at the school gate

She never wore heels

or make-up.

She did have three lipsticks from the 1970s – a pink one and orange one and and sort of melted brown blob

She didn’t ever watch rom-coms

She stopped buying music in about 1963.

She never talked about being a lady

or using your feminine wiles

(whatever those were).

She tromped around the garden in gumboots

and a jumper from he dark ages.
When I was little there were lots of books

Little kid books

Christian books

then books we could read by ourselves.

One day my mum read a magical book from her childhood.

It was precious. a treasure.

She only read it to us once to keep the pages from falling out.

It was from the ancient history that was my mum’s own difficult childhood

She read it as if preserving her fragile childhood

Stopping its few good memories from disintegrating into crumbs.

Mostly my mum’s idea of calming reading was the book of Revelation.

At 10 I knew all about the whore of Babylon

But I’d never watched Mary Poppins.
My mum had a word for every occasion

a logophile

(ironic that one needs to be a logophile to know what one is).

In a sea of Englishness she sported an Australian twang.
England was always too cold.

too windy

she’d set up a vivid orange tent on every English beach

We never got lost

We’d see the tent’s toxic hue and come whirring back like homing pigeons

If pigeons liked dribbly ice cream and seaside rock.
As I got older my mum transformed

She was now my best friend

In the absence of friends my age

I could tell her anything

I’d stand behind her and brush her hair

Hundreds of times

Thousands when measured in days and months and years.

Whenever I was in trouble she’d be there

Ready

Amazing.
Some time after I gained for myself a label

‘Jeanette:Aspie’

I went through adulthood the lone labelled person in our quirky Purky world.

It was almost a sleight – why just me when others in our midst may benefit from a swipe from the label machine.

One Christmas I was home

My mum comes up with unknown intent

She thrusts a card into my hand

‘I want the assessment. Give me the label’ it read

Clinician visited

Label attached.
My mum, my friend, my champion all along is now in the club

we are in it together

The same

Our perfect club of two within the larger club we’ve been in all these years.

Our labels bear the same name

‘Thank you mum’

This one is a reflection on a recent trip to my ol d hometown Melbourne

After sparkles

A trip to Melbourne

My former home.

Conferences and book sales give way to tourism.

At the Victoria markets

I spy stalls amidst the fishy funk

A shop with felted hats and a hippie lady

We start to talk

If I took up her time I should buy something I think

I find a deep red yak wool scarf – it will be warm in Canberra’s winter chill and wind

I bid her farewell, clutching a little plastic bag overflowing with my new scarf.
I head down the hill

There’s a jewellery shop

Sparkly bling and a quiet girl hunched at the register, reading a book.

I search about, disappointed by the selection of things but wanting to buy

And then as I’m leaving a sparkly bracelet catches my eager eye

‘How much?’ I ask

The quiet girl’s delicate features light up

‘Ten dollars’ she says.

Ten dollars for an endless amount of sparkles seems a very good deal.
I happily go back to my hotel

past a lanky young boy dancing to his headphones

A twenty-something lass with maroon ringlets

A family from the country, bumping into the unfamiliar crowds.
I have warm things, sparkles and joy.

My love for Melbourne is unabated.

 

This one was published in the Canberra Times earlier this year in a slightly edited form. Enjoy

All that I want

Affluenza and entitlement dictate a list,

Things one is supposed to want if one is successful and urbane:

A house (big, ostentatious)

A car (probably Italian and stylish) and all those other things I neither want nor need.
I want a cat to cuddle

For people to listen before they judge

Full bookcases

Music to lift my soul

Respect of the Other, whatever Other they may be

Safety in my home

Safety in my mind
Influence in things that matter

Wisdom

People and things to love

Just enough self awareness

Ethics and values not rules and dogma

A modest place to call my own with walls for all my art

A friend to tell me when I am getting ahead of myself

Talent and skills sufficient to achieve my goals

Work all the day long

A comfortable and warm bed and sympathetic characters to inhabit my dreams

A body fit for purpose

Friends to laugh with. To cry with. To share success and defeat

To have children in my life to keep me young

Family – my hereditary one and the one I choose

And maybe some chocolate.

 

Here;s a lovely one about mr Kitty and how he is my little black kitty therapist

I have a little panther. He shares my home

With sleek black fur

Golden eyes and ready purrs

I feel a thump each night as he leaps on the bed

I see him coming towards me

Purposeful

On a mission for a cuddle

He flops  down next to me and I hold his little paw

He talks

And talks

Announces his presence at times in plaintive meows

or deep reverberating purrs

He asks for cuddles

Taps me on the shoulder as I work

‘I’m here mummy’

If I keep on at my work the tap gets more insistent until I scoop him up and bury my face in his soft fur

He steals my spot on the couch

‘helps’ with laundry

and gift wrapping

and cooking.

When I make the bed he insists on assisting

In his previous life he was a stray

He seems like a rich boy fallen on hard times

When I cuddle him he cuddles back

An urgency of love

I was his saviour

And he was mine.

His entry to my world spelled the exit of my blighted existence

Since he has shared my hearth there have been no stays in modern day bedlam

No self-destructive dance of defeat

And when my fractured mind turns him into a demon

He walks up with his patented panther stride

And reminds me who he is,

My mind’s demon become reality’s cat

I hold him and he purrs

Yes, I have a little panther who shares my home.

I can scarce imagine life without him

This one won the 2011 ACT Mental Health Week poetry competition. It was written when I was very unwell and staying at a mental health rehabilitation house. It was before i git Mr Kiyty, when i didn’t like living at Whimsy Manor. I think its quite a powerful poe,.

Monday

Monday

I put on my suit – armour against the sword of daily life

I took the bus to work

Thoughts passed through my mind

of awful and inappropriate actions.

I swiped my card. The perspex doors gave way at its bidding and I was in the lift

I got out at Level 5, walked to my desk and logged on

The emails made no sense
I took myself to a private room and called Kathy, my capable clinical manager

“Go home” she said

but I was determined.

After what seemed no time my Manager was driving me to see Kathy, concerned.

The world seemed to close in – there was no future

Kathy was concerned as well – worry etched in her features.
A trip to the hospital

Waiting

I escaped. Kathy gave chase.

Police walked by

I looked longingly at their guns

but what sort of public servant would that make me I thought

A dead one.
Kathy leaves me at the assessment unit

In my suit.

My make-up perfect, jewelry matching my clothes

Work shoes newly polished.

There is no tomorrow I think, at least, not one in which I want to be.
The psychiatrist – young, cocky, male – sends me to PSU, the locked ward, for my own protection.

I arrive that night

In my suit.

“Do you work here?” asks an intern

“no” I respond gloomily. “I’m just a well-dressed patient.”
Outside the rebels storm the winter palace and the sky explodes,

Inside I’m safe, medicated and confused.

The world goes on around me, unaware and unconcerned

This one is quite a long one – sort of a narrative poem. It actually made me cry when I read it out loud after I drafted it. Thats; probably the mark of a good poem (unless one  is crying due to the terrible writing but  it was crying for emotion, honest. 🙂

Shadow girl

There was once a girl with a happy laugh and a curious smile

But she did not know it.

For she lived in the shadows

Where the creatures of the dark hurt her

And told her lies and called her names.

She hated the shadow world

But tit was her home.
She wanted to leave her broken world

but she couldn’t find her way into the fresh green garden she believed was above

She imagined its flowers and birds and dragonflies humming by happily.
The shadows broke her spirit and took the smile form her eyes

The love from her heart’

The will from her mind.
Weighed down, she trolled the shadows, crying silently.

For she knew this was not her home

But she couldn’t come out.
One day she started to walk

went to places she hadn’t been

Ghosts laughed at her and made bets that she would be here forever but she just kept on walking.
One day she found a rock stair case

She looked up and saw stars – actual, beautiful twinkling stars

Lights calling to her straight from the very beginning of the universe.
Even though the stairs were slimy and she feared she would fall with every step she knew she needed to take the stairs

It was her only chance to be free.
She went on and on.

Hours and days and years elapsed

Strangely, the higher she got – even though the danger of falling grew worse with each footfall – she started to feel renewed and confident.

Clear crisp air filled her lungs.

She started to smell blossoms – so far from the foul odours of the shadows, smells of death and decay and defeat.
As she climbed higher, beams of light started to shine on her face. The light was warm and gave her hope.
She saw the top of the stairs

She took a tentative step into this new world.

She looked down and saw her dress was white

Her gold hair flowing down past her shoulders.
She lay in the green grass in the garden looking up at a pure blue sky.

She couldn’t find a word for what she felt

She didn’t even know what she felt except that she was no longer afraid.
An age passed.

The garden was so beautiful but the girl was all alone

What point is there to happiness if one can’t share the experience? The girl thought.
As soon as she thought that, a little black cat strode over, exuding cat confidence

He wound himself around her legs.

She stroked the cat and felt his soft fur.

The cat walked off into the distance

“Wait!’ the girl said and followed him

Running to keep up.

 

She followed the cat for a long while,

Damp, springy grass underfoot. .

He stopped at the top of the staircase.

She looked down and saw shadows and ghosts.

They looked weighed down and sad.

She wondered how she could help.
The cat started walking down the stirs.

The girl followed.

It seemed infinitely easier going down than it had been coming up.
The girl met a ghost

But the ghost was not frightening or evil – it was sad.

Against all logic, the girl held out her hand to the ghost

With the touch she saw the ghost’s humanity

It was a young girl with spiky red hair, green eyes and a tentative smile

The ghost was a friend.
The two of them went hand in had up the stairs, followed by the cat.

It was infinitely more easy to traverse the stairs with company,

The two girls talked and laughed and helped each other up.

The cat showed them the best way to ascend and purred a tune to keep them inspired.

As they ascended, the ghost took on stronger form

After while the two of them looked like sisters.

They were whole.
So the girl spent eternity rescuing ghosts from the fetid world below.

She took them to the garden where they could live their new existence.

She became friends with each one of them.

The task would never be done but the rewards were great.
And the garden became filled with the laughter of children and adults who once were shadows but were now whole, fulfilled, free people.

And the girl kept on at her task.

 

And last but not least, my latest poem, written on Tuesday, all about reconciling negative historical Jeanette with who I am now. I hope you enjoyed my poetic musings 🙂 JP

The two Jeanettes

I’m tired

Seventeen years of tired

Of metaphorically jerking my neck around to spy my past

then run from her as fast as I can.
Excuses excuses

‘I’m not like that…

‘She isn’t me. She is previous me…’

He face leers grotesquely at me in the mirror

Every time success comes my way she is right next to me, taunting, blaming, hating.
Hard to express just how I hate her

Every act is framed by her presence

I can’t really own my life

Every day at my job

Accepting accolades and planning what to do if she ever escapes to destroy all I have made

I had no future than and I barely see one now

“If good things happen I will be dead straight afterwards’

‘Don’t get too comfortable. You were in prison. Everyone will know and they will hate you

There is no good in you. You are just pretending.

Others can see past your nice act to who you really are. You are ME.

Oh I shall destroy you. All those who love you will hate you when I’m done.
Author? positive person? Autism world Celebrity? Really? Who do you think you are?
I step back and watch the person I once was

I see her desperation

I see that every kind word I say, each decent act I commit puts a distance between us.

She is desperate

As she always was

She is both victim and perpetrator.

Vulnerable

Young

Scared

Acting tough in a world really not fit for her

The hatred is an act. Mostly

She learned the words, the attitude, but was never really there.
I summon up my strength and approach her.

She’s like a frightened dog – hackles up and in need of love and closeness.

Tentatively I hold my hand to her

“You can be yourself’ I say

‘There is seventeen years between you and i.

This world will accept you

Forgive your mistakes and support you.

You don’t need to fight the world.

There is a place for you.

There is a cat….’
I edge closer

I touch my hand to her. it is scarred but she holds on tight

We embrace

gingerly at first, both of us wondering what the other may do

Then she grabs me and holds me close

She cries and I wipe her tears as she does he for me

My shadow self and I together

I hold no fear of her

It is swept away amid understanding and acceptance.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

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