KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 2: Winter 2015
Poems: 64 words [R]
49 words [R]
44 words [R]
28 words [R]
44 words [R]

Five Poems from Autobiography

by Jennifer Bartlett

to walk means to fall
to thrust forward

            to fall and catch

the seemingly random
is its own system of gestures 

based on a series of neat errors
            falling and catching

to thrust forward

sometimes the body misses
then collapses

it shatters

with this particular knowledge

a movement spastic
            and unwieldy

is its own lyric and
the able-bodied are

tone-deaf to this singing



                    is of its own grace
                    rather occurs
out of laziness or distraction
here, the entire frame is shaken
these are the falls
where I tell myself
            you shouldn’t have fallen
I mean to inflict
while the critic of the world watches
o stupid, stupid world



to be crippled means to have window
into the insanity of the able-bodied

to be crippled means to
see the world slowly and manically

            to translate
to record
            to adapt

to be crippled means to have
access to people’s fear

of their own eroding



main part
primary figure
the opposite of the soul
mere container

the thing that transitions

shelter me

flawed shelter


spastic soldier
invalid of no legal force



composed primarily
of water and light

this is my body
I am its light

a mere shadow remains
so that, the body is erased

excepting movement

I am all motion and
this motion is neither weak nor hideous

this motion is simply my own

—All poems are from Beauty Is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability, edited by Jennifer Bartlett, Sheila Black, and Michael Northen (Cinco Puntos Press, 2011). These poems also appear in Jennifer Bartlett’s latest book, Autobiography/Anti-Autobiography (theenk Books, 2014), and are republished here by her permission.

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