autism

THROUGH A GLASS, AUTISTICALLY…

Woke up from a dream

Lifetime-long

A Blues-in-the night song

Relief, at first, remembering

And being re-diagnosed

Autistic

It all came back

The 80s therapist

Son is autistic

So are you

Not much info

Denial

Dream-time

About me

Would, of course,

Want to encourage him

Although I felt it was merely

Creativity

Now, now I accept

My uniqueness

Hah! Good synonym for loneliness

For being pelted

With rolling eyes

Impatient sighs

And me

Living in the dream

That I was just like you

And you

And you

But no

But no, not true

But no, please

No pity

No lies

I yawned and stretched

Got out of bed

And heard the truth

Inside my head

Where do I go from here…?

© 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: November Selfie

SO YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT AUTISM IS LIKE?

I know there is a protest by Autistics Against Autism and I understand.  I, too, object to the way we are all grouped together or treated as if we are a disease that needs to be eradicated.  I suppose, since I come from a time before autism was diagnosed and lived in a vacuum, not knowing what was wrong, I appreciate any information that has arisen since the birth of Google.  We are all different.  This poem is ME!  Not Joe Blow, not Jane Doe!  My particular experience.  Love and Peace to us all…

 

Autism is standing still while

Everyone runs for the cliff edge

And you want to know why

Before joining them

But the surge pushes you down

And they thunder across your back

And you’re bloody but not broken

Because the rage keeps you sane

 

Autism is always being chosen

To be

The Cheese

In Farmer in the Dell

The Cheese stands alone

In the middle of the circle

As baby classmates point and sing

And you cry

But the next year you don’t cry

You will never let them break you

At least they won’t know

You care

 

Autism is getting it wrong when a boy flirts

Confusion from what he means

Interpreted by his ego

Thinking you’re indifferent

To his oh-so-obvious charms

And he hates you

 

Autism is being nice to a boy

Who seems like a friend

But not realizing

His ego cannot allow someone like you

To be kind

i.e., flirt (must be, he reasons)

And he hates you

For showing interest in his

Oh-so-obvious charms

 

Yet autism is like everyone else

Loving friends and movies

Books and games

Dreaming of being asked

To the prom

And buying a dress

To transform the lightning and thunder

Into rainbows of love, peace and happiness

 

Autism is loving sex and drugs and rock and roll

But luckily learning that drugs can take you

Where you don’t want to go

Because you can’t come back

But some nights you think

Maybe that’s not bad

What’s to come back to?

Only thunder and lightning and rain

 

Autism is when married

Choosing a dysfunctional like you

Yet he becomes an adversary

Family and friends roll their eyes

And laugh when he reveals your secrets

Meant only for him

It’s not like you’re barking like a dog

Or flapping your hands

Everything looks “normal”

But there must be some type of invisible mark

That all can see

Except me

 

What do they see?

What did I do?

What did I say?

 

Answers? No, so

Although I’ve never been a head banger

I want to badly butt

My head against theirs

Make them see

I’m like them

I am!

But I don’t know what to say

My tongue gets in the way

 

Children come

One is finally labeled

“Somewhat autistic”

What does that mean?

No information

Never heard the word before

No idea I am

We’re all so different

But children raised

In the offbeat way

AKA, autistic

And their lives

Get drenched in different shades of rain

Thunder, lightning

Mudslides

 

What is Autism?

 

Autism is traffic jams

Oncoming headlights in

A foggy, dark night

Thunder drowning out your heartbeat

Automobile stereo’s bass line ripping through your brain

 

Autism is thunder in your soul

As rain pours from your eyes

And lightning jerks your strings

 

Autism is knowing you are safest locked alone

In your room

Where no one can hurt you

But the curse is

Like everyone else

You crave society…

 

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja), from my book Miniature Worlds Sublime

IMAGE: zmescience.com

 

AUTISTIC DRIFT

*scroll down for a YouTube video*

 

Sometimes I feel like the family dog

Sitting around the table

Everyone’s speaking English

But to me,

It’s blah-blah-blah-ish

Not sure what you’re saying

Not sure if I care

Because talk

Often doesn’t compare

To the imaginary music in my mind

Much like—I am sure—the meaty bone

The family dog

Patiently awaits

A tastier treat

Than words fluttering through the air…

 

*YouTube video: Harry Nilsson, Everybody’s Talking At Me

© 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: my peace ukulele under the banana tree

WHO ARE YOU?

 

**scroll down for a YouTube video**

 

Wondered if you are autistic

Like me

But can’t be, you lie

A Lot

Maybe you’re into a fantasy world

So it’s not deception

Just another guise

Across the page unfurled

Who are you, I wonder

The real you, that is

Or are the personas

All separate mosaics

Different names

Different elements

Producing patterns of

Universal familiarity

Ah, well, who can tell

Impossible to define real

We might as well be

Imprisoned in a prism

Facets of colors

Begging to be free

Perhaps someday

Our lights will collide

Inventing a new shade

On the spectrum…

 

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Gandee Vasan/Stone/Getty Images

 

YouTube video: Who Are You, Fifth Harmony  https://youtu.be/hnhtI6IV9N0

THE FAULT IN THE GRAMMAR

 

(scroll down for YouTube video)

 

I’m devoted to manipulating

Or at least changing

Ridiculous parts of

The English language

Traumatized when barely 10 years old

Not even 5 feet

Petite

Asking my teacher

“Can I help with…?”

She

Towering over me

Valkyrie metal breastplate

Surely hidden beneath her

Teacherly folds of pre-60s

Color and fabric

“CAN YOU? CAN YOU? CAN YOU?”

She growing in stature

Me shrinking into chalky

Classroom floorboards

Classmates snickering

As I desperately tried

Deciphering why

She sneered

Me struggling with first generation English

With autism, before it was labeled

At home, asked Dad

He knew 5 languages

Could do the NY Times Crossword

Without a dictionary

Emigrated to the US at age 10

Quitting school at 17 to fight in WWII

He clueless, too

Mom, born 1929

Proudly saying she was depressed

Because born in the year of the Great Depression

She wrote little poems suitable for greeting cards

But never tried to publish them

No clue

But In her way, accusing

“What did you do???” she demanded

“Mrs. Donahue was my teacher too.

A good teacher!”

All of us clueless re cryptic

“CAN YOU? CAN YOU? CAN YOU?”

Next day a classmate took pity on me

I hate pity but grateful, this once

“May I?  is what you say,” said he

“Not CAN I.”

What? How’d I miss that?

On the day teachers said

“Today’s lesson is Grammar”

Did I think they meant “Hammer”

And chose to compose poems in my mind

Instead of listening to a lecture on tools?

It was finally nice to grow up

Into a fu*k you hippie

It was finally nice to major in English

And know the rules, but ignore them

I therefore NEVER say “MAY I?”

Only “CAN I?”

Traumatized by a word?

Perhaps

It shows in my poetry

That I call “not-poetry”

And oh, best of all,

I wear my own breastplate now…

 

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Valkyrie by the bastardson, deviantart

 

YouTube video: Richard Wagner, Ride of the Valkyries https://youtu.be/P73Z6291Pt8

MODERN SHALOTT

 

“The mirror crack’d from side to side”

Truly my favorite Tennyson line

Because the curse always comes upon me

Destroying acceptance incrementally

 

How did such a rebellious soul

Exercising admirable self-control

Change into a steamed up mirror

An alteration that couldn’t be clearer

 

Glass has taken over relationships

The protective web has been snip’t

Accepted, but useless trying to flatter

Because the mirror will always shatter

 

Autism is the cause of panic

People’s needs I see as oceanic

Perhaps a survival mechanism

For emotions faceted like a prism

 

Often I will hesitate

To see what one likes or hates

Desperately waiting for a clue

And then I’ll know what to do

 

Sometimes you say one thing

That has a false-sounding ring

You give me a look if I disagree

So much easier your side to see

 

The mirror was a joy in my youth

Because I did not know the truth

But once accepting the new label

My life became a poetic fable…

 

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Hunt’s Lady of Shalott

 

SO YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT AUTISM IS LIKE?

 

(FOR AUTISM AWARENESS DAY APRIL 2)

Autism is standing still while

Everyone runs for the cliff edge

And you want to know why

Before joining them

But the surge pushes you down

And they thunder across your back

And you’re bloody but not broken

Because the rage keeps you sane

 

Autism is always being chosen

To be

The Cheese

In Farmer in the Dell

The Cheese stands alone

In the middle of the circle

As baby classmates point and sing

And you cry

But the next year you don’t cry

You will never let them break you

At least they won’t know

You care

 

Autism is getting it wrong when a boy flirts

Confusion from what he means

Interpreted by his ego

Thinking you’re indifferent

To his oh-so-obvious charms

And he hates you

 

Autism is being nice to a boy

Who seems like a friend

But not realizing

His ego cannot allow someone like you

To be kind

i.e., flirt (must be, he reasons)

And he hates you

For showing interest in his

Oh-so-obvious charms

 

Yet autism is like everyone else

Loving friends and movies

Books and games

Dreaming of being asked

To the prom

And buying a dress

To transform the lightning and thunder

Into rainbows of love, peace and happiness

 

Autism is loving sex and drugs and rock and roll

But luckily learning that drugs can take you

Where you don’t want to go

Because you can’t come back

But some nights you think

Maybe that’s not bad

What’s to come back to?

Only thunder and lightning and rain

 

Autism is when married

Choosing a dysfunctional like you

Yet he becomes an adversary

Family and friends roll their eyes

And laugh when he reveals your secrets

Meant only for him

It’s not like you’re barking like a dog

Or flapping your hands

Everything looks “normal”

But there must be some type of invisible mark

That all can see

Except me

 

What do they see?

What did I do?

What did I say?

 

Answers? No, so

Although I’ve never been a head banger

I want to badly butt

My head against theirs

Make them see

I’m like them

I am!

But I don’t know what to say

My tongue gets in the way

 

Children come

One is finally labeled

“Somewhat autistic”

What does that mean?

No information

Never heard the word before

No idea I am

We’re all so different

But children raised

In the offbeat way

AKA, autistic

And their lives

Get drenched in different shades of rain

Thunder, lightning

Mudslides

 

What is Autism?

 

Autism is traffic jams

Oncoming headlights in

A foggy, dark night

Thunder drowning out your heartbeat

Automobile stereo’s bass line ripping through your brain

 

Autism is thunder in your soul

As rain pours from your eyes

And lightning jerks your strings

 

Autism is knowing you are safest locked alone

In your room

Where no one can hurt you

But the curse is

Like everyone else

You crave society…

 

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: zmescience.com

 

 

 

DEAD

 

If you were a Seinfeld addict

You’ll remember George

Loser George

In the episode when he

Deliberately chose the opposite

Of his pre-programmed life path

Suddenly, life becomes magical

I had the opposite happen

Life full of promise

(So I thought)

Learning guitar at sixteen

Untrained but potentially successful

High soprano voice

Body strong

But suddenly skewed

By an unknown

What? Do they really know?

Blip on a spectrum

Called autism

Where social clues

And paying your dues

Were never understood

So I did the opposite

Quit guitar

Stressed out my voice

Quit school

Made the wrong marriage choice

Then

Five decades later

Hands, voice, face

All raggedy

Start playing ukulele

Oh, I was meant for this!

Starlight, whirling planets

Moon glow, ode-to-joy-music

Life does a little tilt

In the right direction

But too late…all too late

Wish George Costanza had hit the airwaves

Back then

Because what I wanted most of all

Was to be a

Dead Head

 

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: My ukulele Grateful Dead song book

HI FALUTIN’ AUTISM

autism-awareness

This year I come out of the closet

And admit that I am HFA

High Functioning Autistic

No such diagnosis when young

I only have meltdowns once a year

But everyone deserves a meltdown

My mother, back in those days,

Knew how to deal with noisy children:

Pull the hair, pinch the cheeks

Until we stopped

Thought I was an alien

At school, and later work

If I was a wolf

In a tight pack

Would have been driven out

Then, a few years ago,

My Gen Prac doctor casually said,

“Oh, you didn’t know you’re HFA?”

Tested and yes, I am

So I’ve decided to

Embrace my inner clown

Not a Seinfeld-funny one

Just odd

Just master (mistress?)

Of the inappropriate

Comment

Somewhat unsure

If people are joking or serious

A bit stiff if a stranger hugs me

Overwhelmed by flashing lights

And large crowds

Although I learned to navigate in

The day-to-day and night-to-night

Life

Homo autistica

I coined that word in a previous poem

We’re a new, evolutionary breed

There are so many of us on

Different levels of the spectrum

Too bad I didn’t land in the

Land of Savant autistics

Like Bill Gates

But at least I’m an Earthling

I think…

© Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

SPELL IT OUT! (A poem for some of us HFA people)

enigma code machine

I’m not very good at interpreting

Inferences, conjectures, hints, speculations, surmises

My imagination careens out of control

When I try to guess

What people secretly mean

When they speak in code

You can write something

You can say something

But it’s like an elaborate labyrinth of words

Unless you spell it out!

So write, sing, say your words

Wrapped in the finest metaphors, similes or poetic pontifications

But it’s lost on me

Come on, spell it out!

Unless it’s not meant for me

In that case

Never mind…

© 2014 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja), Poetic Alchemy: Talking Blues

(image: Enigma code machine)