January 20, 2008


that is unquestionably joy
in a most unexpected place

in the eyes of an innocent
cruel society deems disabled

bent and stooped
drawn in
unimaginably twisted

confined to constant care
and his rolling metal chair

his gentle eyes
reflect a wonder
my jaded soul
has long since lost

by vanity extinguished

his timeless spirit
knows only trust
it pours forth
from his being

he rocks
and waves
and vibrates

his person full alive
his essence full aware

wholly in the now

positioned close
to the modest stage
he is enraptured by the rhythm
enthralled by the magic

the band plays fast
the band plays slow
the band plays loud
the band plays soft

he is filled with every note
every beat
every nuance

he experiences an ecstasy
at which I can only marvel

its purity and power
I can never know

I now realize
just how much
I do not understand

as I behold this able man

faint envy stirs
as I witness
his unbridled joy

so complete
and unexpected




  1. It’s sad that society gets to decide who is and isn’t disabled. Though a person may be wise, smart,talented, or gifted…he or she is considered disabled. I think you struck a nerve.

  2. Life can be so unfair. This is such a powerful yet poignant piece.

  3. Shari –

    Sadly, many people are actually frightened by those that are different from themselves — so they never get to know the “person”… and it is indeed, very sad! 😦

    This piece was inspired by an experience I had. This wonderful man had come to watch my friend’s jazz trio perform in Chicago. I was fascinated watching him, and we ultimately became pen pals until he passed away in 1982. He wrote with a special typewriter and a wand he held in his teeth.

    Brilliant dry humor, and never bitter — despite some very cruel incidents in his life.

  4. Keith –

    Yes, people are very insecure — and it leads to some awful behavior.

    I’m glad this piece touched you.

  5. It was beautiful,it is really sad that the society has different moulds and out of the mould feels out of the comfort zone

  6. very powerful. life is like that..

    Arty? Not me!!

  7. Well done tribute. I especially like “as I behold this able man” and the way the line is set between the descriptions.

  8. this was throbbing with passion..

    i knew a man once,, when i worked in a nursing home many years ago.. crippled so, was he, that it never occurred to me,, as an 18 year old in perfect health, that he was “in there”,,, alive and well and wanting so much to be treated as such, despite his mangled shriveled outer shell…

    i will never forget him.. gary was his name.. you brought him to life,, for the second time,, here for me today… thank you…..

  9. I can see it. The band, the jaded performer, the man in the chair. That’s the mark of great writing.

  10. they are “alive” and “in there”, looking at you through the disguise of an exterior.

  11. I sometimes think the disabled can experience more than the able – whatever they are. It is a matter of appreciation when it is so much more difficult to achieve.

  12. A wonderfully poignant post – lovely tribute to this man and I particularly enjoyed the words you used to compare-

  13. i went ahead and wrote a post as inspired by this piece,, it is called “bulls eyes”

    thank you ever so much for the inspiration…..

  14. I love how you bring the usual to our attention, and show us a different way of seeing.

  15. I am thinking of an autistic child lost in his own world. I once read a blog by a girl with autism. She said that she is interacting with her environment. Everything about it is heightened.

  16. You have painted a scene so detailed and deeply felt. You’ve translated your experience so perfectly.

  17. Love the line – “He is filled with every note”. I can feel the envy and wonder!

    Gorgeous description!

    Smiles and Light

  18. this was beautiful and brilliant…

    sometimes society tends to forget that the physical form is just a physical form; it has nothing to do with intelligence, emotions, joys, fears, wants, needs….we are all the same inside….each of us moved by the very joyful things life gives….

    just breathtakingly and beautifully written….

  19. I love the way your wrote about this with such dignity!

  20. this is empowering indeed, a kind of tribute to the priceless beauty often hidden…

  21. Back again! Meant to add the placement of “joy” in the first line somehow reminds me of Blake’s visions. And threads of William Blake murmur through the poem. It creates a lovely layering.

    Smiles and Light

  22. This was amazing.

  23. the human spirit is strong…

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