Tag Archives: bumps

Braille and Poetry

2 Jul

by Mani G. Iyer

It isn’t like scotch and soda
or, pumpkin pie and vanilla ice cream
or, for that matter, burger and fries.
It just so happens
that my braille teacher is a fine poet too.
The big braille book lies between us,
I amble the trail of irregular bumps,
nimbly with the tip of my index finger.
He rides the same trail
with his eyes, and waits for me
to tell him what I discovered, at every clearing.
When I put my index finger to rest,
on the next milestone, lest I not lose the trail
or revisit the trodden path,
we discuss line breaks in poetry,
when to do them, and when not to.
He recites Stopping by woods on a snowy evening,
shows me the sentence patterns.
I visualize Frost on an evening trot,
his horse being more intimate with
the ground beneath them.
When I am done with assembling the bumps
into words and relate the final sentence,
he tells me, I am on the right track.
For the next lesson, he types up
the Frost poem in braille
for me to feel the poetry.


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.

Braille in Public Places

22 Sep

by Paul Hostovsky

Touch me, I know you want to.
What would you say if I told you
I’ve never been touched in my life
by anyone who understood me?
And even if they were having
their convention here in this building,
squeezing into this elevator,
looking around for this restroom,
bumping gently up against each other like
a queue of balloons at this
ATM—do you think they would
see me, or even think to look?
I hate my life. I should have been
a poem by Li Po with a pond
and a frog, a soft rain and a pebble
the size of a braille dot thrown in.
At least I’d have something to do
with myself for eternity. I have
nothing to do with anyone. I am
someone holding up a sign
in an airport terminal, waiting
for a look of recognition to come
from among the arrivals who never
arrive. And it never comes. What
would it look like, that look? Would I
even recognize it? Is it round like
a smile? Is it pointed like a greeting
or a touch? Would I mistake it for
love? All of my life I have waited
to be touched by someone who could
touch me like that. I have given myself
goose bumps, look, just imagining it.


Paul Hostovsky is a sighted Braille instructor in Boston. He is also the  author of three books of poetry, Bending the Notes (2008), Dear Truth (2009), and A Little in Love a Lot (2011). His poems have won a Pushcart Prize and been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, The Writer’s Almanac, and Best of the Net 2008 and 2009. To read more of his work, visit his website at www.paulhostovsky.com .