14 November 2012


Trigger Warning: Murder, abuse, torture, and descriptions of specific crimes against disabled people. Also ableism in general.

This is a poem that I wrote and performed for the Education Week open slam. 


I cannot feel
But it is not because I am not able
Not because I am not capable

They hold me down
They sit on me
They pin my arms behind my back
And wrench my wrists til I go slack
They push my face into the floor
They hold my legs while I beg “no more”
They lock me in an empty room
They watch me though I can’t see them
They won’t let me be with the other kids
Won’t let me learn and play like the rest of them

I cry
I rock
I flap
I spin
I scream
I bang
I pick my skin

I want to talk but they won’t listen
They talk about me like I’m not there
I’m diseased, they say, defective, deficient
My mind is broken
There’s something wrong and they need to fix it
They pathologize every bit of me
If I laugh
If I smile
If I cry
If I’m happy or sad
If I want to eat or sleep at unusual times

They strap me down and leave me for hours
They attach wires to my arms and legs
And shock me for being me
Thirty times in a day

I can’t suffer this longer
They’re suffocating me
And if they kill me
I know they’ll go free
They did it to Katie and George and Daniel
To Tracy and Laura and Calista

In their eyes, I am not human
Less than human
Defective neural matter hidden behind a human face

They are the ones putting up with me
They’re the “heroes” for abusing me

It’s not that I won’t resist
I can’t
Not while they can do it again
Not while the law can let them
Not while they’re crushing me
Pinning me to the floor
Locking me alone for the crime of existing
Incarcerating me in some “group home”

They won’t let me try
Won’t give me the tools I need to succeed
Won’t let me communicate
Won’t listen when I do
Won’t turn off the lights and sound and smells
Won’t let me learn the way I can
Won’t tell me I can do whatever I dream
Won’t tell me I’m okay the way I am

They tell me I’m not capable of dreaming
They tell me I’m not capable of feeling
They tell me I’m not capable of being human

So they try to beat me out of me
Try to stamp my soul from my body
Try to sever nature from behavior
Try to pound me into a mold of their making not meant for me

If they have their way, I’ll never know community
I’ll never know my own history, the history of my people

But I know
Because I learned by nightfall from dark corners of safe spaces on crip space webpages
I know now who I am

And do you know who I am?

I am Carrie Buck
Sterilized without consent because my mother and daughter and I were disabled

I died in the Holocaust
I was the first among them, the first among the Untermenschen

I was in Willowbrook
Chained to walls and beds

I am the Blind laboring for twenty-two cents an hour
In the name of charity

I am the “idiot” and “insane person”
Disenfranchised, unable to vote in my own hometown

I am Hope Block
Unable to marry my love because we are disabled

I am Kalanit Levy
Wrongfully born
Should have been aborted had the doctor done the right thing

I am Katie McCarron
Suffocated by my mother for being Autistic

I am George Hodgins
Shot by my mother for being Autistic

I am Daniel Corby
Drowned by my mother for being Autistic

I am Tracy Latimer
Gassed by my father for having cerebral palsy

I am Laura Cummings
Tortured, raped, and murdered by my mother and uncle
For being disabled

I am Calista Springer
Chained to a bed and killed by my father and stepmother
For being Autistic

I am Andre McCollins
Tied down for seven hours
Shocked thirty-one times
Because they could, would, and did

I am the target of your pity and fear and scorn
I am your problem, society’s problem, your burden, society’s burden

You erase me
You silence me

I rage

I despair in your prisons
your schools
your cesspools of forced labor and segregation

For me there are no rights
No protections
No humanity
No decency

And I tremble, by God, I tremble
Because I know you’ll come for me next
You’ll come for me in the guise of treatment and protection
And when you murder me, when you slaughter my soul and crush my spirit
You’ll earn the accolades, the sympathy, the empathy

As you take your knives and guns and straps and wires and chains and pills
As you hammer me and batter me and choke me and beat me
As you win
As you erase me
As you kill me

What will become of me then?


  1. Powerful and Moving ... SHARED on F/B

  2. Very powerful poem. Thanks for sharing it with us all.

  3. This is a very deep, emotional and riveting poem. We are the ones who need to speak for the victims, we need to be the voices for those who have none.


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