Archive | December, 2012

The Hat

28 Dec

by Mani G. Iyer

It was a beautiful, bright day
the sun had come out to play
with my crippled eyes,
tricking me into a panoply
of blur, intense and void, perhaps.
I am focusing hard, on something
black atop a contrasting white face,
worn by you sitting across me, amid
voices, Amharic and French.
Was it a hat? The sort
you only read or saw in history books?
When I boldly ventured the form
to be a tall, stylish hat
you jumped up and down excitedly
announcing the world around us,
‘He can see my hat!’
‘He can see my hat!’
This is how we met, and before long,
we floated on a cloud
to Quebec, the exotic places you visited,
your nearly hairless head, upon which
you guided my fingers to let me feel.
A year later, when you were waiting out
your life, I so badly wanted to see you
for the opportunity of confiding in you,
that on sunless days,
I can see a lot more.

(This poem is dedicated to the memory of Thérése.)

Mani G. Iyer was born and raised in Bombay, India and has lived in the United States since 1985.  He is deaf-blind due to Usher Syndrome.  He became deaf by the age of 4, night-blind by the age of 12, and now has very little usable vision.

There’s a Song in the Air

22 Dec

by Marilyn Brandt-Smith

Music has always been my strongest means for expressing and celebrating the spiritual beauty of Christmas. As a good harmony singer on a school campus where music played a leading role, I rose early on our day for going home. In the older girls’ cottage we donned warm clothing and took to the roads on campus to sing beneath windows and on patios at other dormitories. This rite of passage had been our dream ever since we were those little girls, cold from crisp air through open windows, but captured by the magic of Christmas harmony. Anticipating hot cocoa and breakfast served early, we serenaded the superintendent and the men in the boiler room providing our steam heat. The night before, in our annual Christmas pageant, we tried our wings onstage or sang from the balcony, open to the back of the auditorium from the second floor. We got goosebumps as three high school boys with grown-up, handsome voices walked up the center aisle singing “We Three Kings,” and joined the manger scene onstage.

Each line in this collection of haiku is taken from a song celebrating the nativity. Some songs and verses may be obscure, but most are familiar. Some mystery writers in the 1930’s used footnotes to prove they’d dropped clues here and there. I offer a list, ordered by line, of the songs from which I borrowed lyrics.

 No crying he makes,
The babe, the son of Mary,
Born in Bethlehem.
Angels bending near,
What your gladsome tidings be?
So, to honor him.
Sing, choirs of angels;
Rise up, shepherd, and follow
The stars in the sky.
Peace to men on Earth!
Go tell it on the mountain;
Come little children.
Come and behold him;
Lo, how a rose e’er blooming,
Born on Christmas day.
He shall feed his flock;
The weary world rejoices;
Sheep may safely graze.
Yay, Lord, we greet Thee,
Born to raise the sons of Earth,
His gospel is peace.
Star of Bethlehem,
Guide us to thy perfect light;
Christ was born for this.

There’s a Song in the Air, Away in a Manger, What Child is This?, Children, Go Where I Send Thee, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, Angels We have Heard on High, Little Drummer Boy, Oh, Come, All Yee Faithful, Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow, Oh Little Town of Bethlehem, Go Tell it on the Mountain, Oh Come, Little Children, Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming, Mary’s Boy Child, He Shall Feed His Flock, from Handel’s Messiah, Oh Holy Night, Sheep May Safely Graze, from a cantata by Bach, Hark! the Herald Angels Sing, Beautiful Star of Bethlehem, We Three Kings of Orient Are,  and Good Christian Men, Rejoice

Marilyn Brandt Smith’s writings reflect memories of her childhood at the Texas School for the Blind (1955) and at home on a ranch in south Texas.  She taught children in summer programs and adults in year-round rehabilitation centers and in their homes. Marilyn also worked as a counselor and a director of rehabilitation for several agencies across the country. She is now totally blind and lives with my family in a hundred-year-old home in Louisville, Kentucky.

Mr. Santa

16 Dec

by Nancy Scott

(sung to the tune of “Mr. Sandman” by Pat Ballard)

Mr. Santa, bring me some dough!
I wanna travel–there’s places to go!
I wanna look nice and I wanna glisten–
I’ve been so very good, so you should listen!
Santa, I want some green.
Deficit spending is really obscene,
So please do more than HO-HO-HO–
Mr. Santa, bring me some dough!
Mr. Santa, bring me a Rolls.
I want a new car with fancy controls,
Digital tuning, and leather interior–
I wanna own the road and be superior!
Santa, I need to drive
The kind of car that says I’ve arrived
So don’t give me that sack of coals–
Mr. Santa, bring me a Rolls!
Mr. Santa, bring me a hunk,
Please make him willing–I don’t want a monk.
He must be funny and he should be clever,
And you can tell him I’ll be his forever.
Santa, it’s getting cold–
Pillows and flannels are no fun to hold.
I’ll buy a cozy king-size bunk–
Mr. Santa, bring me, please please please,
Mr. Santa, bring me a hunk.

Nancy Scott, Easton, PA, is a blind essayist and poet.  Her over-500 bylines have appeared in magazines, literary journals, anthologies and newspapers, and as audio commentaries.  Her third chapbook, co-authored with artist Maryann Riker, is entitled “The Nature of Beyond.


13 Dec

by Fred Nickl

Hope springs eternal they say, but what does that mean?

When I was a child I hoped for that special toy, it never came.

When I was a teen ager, I hoped for a date with the prettiest girls that never happened either.

When I was in Vietnam, I hoped to survive another night. That happened physically but I’m not so sure about it happening mentally.

When I was a driver and woke up in the dark and heard someone say probably a DOA, I hoped it wasn’t true. That wasn’t true either but sometimes I wish it had been.

When I was told I would never see again, I hoped it wasn’t true.  Of course that one was true.

When I was in rehab they told me everything was going to work out for me, I hoped it was true. That wasn’t true for me either.

When I was stepped on and pushed aside as a blind man, I hoped it would get better. It didn’t but I learned to push back.

When after decades of fighting desperation and loneliness I still hoped for something better, it never came.

When as an old man I entered this nursing home, I hoped at last for some peace, I think I finally found it.

When you ask how, it’s hard to explain. The feeling that has come over me is nothing short of a miracle.  I look back and don’t see hope not working for me but me not understanding what hope has done for me.  Sure there were many disappointments in my life but I survived and made a life for myself and along the way I gave hope to others in my situation.  Being an example for others is not a simple thing to do.  I never let my disappointment show.    Something inside me made me fight through every roadblock life put in my way.

I was never a success financially, emotionally, spiritually or even as a father.

Reflecting on my life now it doesn’t seem as desperate as it did at the time.  Now as the true darkness starts to engulf me, I feel hope for that what’s to come is better then what has passed.

Fred Nickl, Sr. is 69 years old and has fun writing.  He lost his sight when he was a young adult but has never let that stop him from being a good dad, grandfather, friend, advocate for the blind and generally nice guy.  Blindness has also never stopped his love for adventure – sky diving being his latest feat!


7 Dec

by Andrea Kelton

Friday, November 22, 1963 dragged on.  I couldn’t wait for the school day to end.So I could hurry home to get all prettied up for my first high school dance.

Around 2:45 that afternoon, the loudspeaker crackled and squawked.  Sister Lenore’s tearful voice gently announced that classes were over for the day.  We were to go immediately to church.  President Kennedy was dead and we had to pray.

My 14 year old brain strained to make sense of the situation.  Assassination was the stuff of history books, not my life.  My 14 year old desires collided with sorrow.  The world was falling apart and all I wanted to do was go to the dance.

Our student population had never been as solemn and silent as we were filing into the church pews.  Father Crowley led us in prayer for the president and his family.  We prayed for the country.  We prayed for peace.  We were dismissed into a world populated by zombiesdrifting through life in shock.

While I waited to hear the dance’s fate, Jacquelyn Kennedy flew back to Washington, D.C., accompanying her dead husband’s coffin.  As I primped my hair and chose an outfit, Mrs. Kennedy planned a state funeral.  Later, as I danced and hung out with friends, Jackie wrote dozens of personal notes and organized her family’s move out of the White House.

On Friday, November 22, 1963, a collective American dream died.  That night, I attended my first high school dance.  I have vivid memories of each excited anticipatory moment. The burning need to attend that dance.  Today, forty nine years later, I can’t remember one single moment of that dance.  However, I still feel the loss of a dream.

Andrea Kelton was diagnosed with uveitis in 1974.  Today she lives in Chicago and teaches Adult Basic Education at Literacy Chicago.  She attends a weekly memoir writing class, “Me, Myself and I” taught by author Beth Finke.

Balance Beam

1 Dec

by Nancy Scott

I practice impatience, balance
it with my book on the porch rail
where I try to read Braille
with February coat sleeves,
thinking the sun must be the color
of the good poems I can only
write in April when the ice melts
and my hair curls with things to do.
I dare to wear no gloves,
read one-handed; too slow
to lure robins.


Nancy Scott, Easton, PA, is a blind essayist and poet.  Her over-500 bylines have appeared in magazines, literary journals, anthologies and newspapers, and as audio commentaries.  Her third chapbook, co-authored with artist Maryann Riker, is entitled “The Nature of Beyond.