Tag Archives: deaf

Diseased

26 Apr

by Ana Garza

I see the defective human bodies of the earth,
The blind, the deaf and dumb, idiots, hunchbacks, lunatics,
The pirates, thieves, betrayers, murderers, slave-makers of the earth,
        –Walt Whitman (“Salut au Mond” 1889-1892)
 
When Whitman saw,
probably I was
dozing in a hand-planed chair, listening
to my grown children and my toddling grandchildren
speaking kindnesses in the parlor of some tucked away house,
 
or maybe I was
suckling my mother’s milk or cooing
in my cradle, too caught up in my fingers, the silk
side rails and the wool blanket I rubbed
against my face,
 
or I could have been
sewing that afternoon in the window
of a scrubbed house with lavendered women
whose comfort was that Jesus healed
people like me with mud from spit,
 
or possibly I wasn’t
caught up in the poet’s multitudes but set, like stone,
along the bank–my palm turned up,
a bowl, a bell, my call
for alms above his song–or more
 
likely, I just slept
on a cot, fevered in tifus, warming
my fingers between my thighs, until men or women versed
in charity smudged
rags across my hands and face
to raise me
 
for a meal. More likely, this
is where I was: a school
with broom handles to be sanded
for sale, broken
walls, drafts, bloated
floorboards, loose straw, unfed minds
and idle bodies for the babbling
lookers-on to notice
how the sloppy fingers of the blind stretch,
reaching for a voice.
 

Ana Garza wrote this poem while taking a graduate course on Walt Whitman, a poet known for his amazing inclusiveness. When she came across the line quoted in the epigraph, she noticed that blind people, like herself, weren’t really included.  Ana has an M. F. A. from California State University, Fresno. forty-four of her poems have appeared in various journals and anthologies, most recently in A handful of Stones, The New Verse News and The Mom Egg.

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The Copper Bowl

8 Nov

by Mani G. Iyer

If it weren’t for the stumps
of his hands,
occasionally swatting those
irritable flies, and
the copper bowl
in the center
of his squatted presence,
you could easily mistake him, for
a heap of dead human flesh. 
The creased bowl was always filled
with the grace of
human beings, and
he acknowledged them
with a twitch of a smile,
perhaps painful,
due to unrelenting nerves, and
his hands, that failed to meet,
raised in gratitude. 
You could never see his legs
beyond the cracked bowl, for
he had none, and
you wondered how
he conducted life’s daily rituals
on a roller board, and
appear like clockwork
for years, at the same
latitude and longitude. 
Nobody knows what became of him
when his abode of the street corner
near a temple,
was disinfected, and
there was no sign
of his defiance, nor
his  life-sustaining bowl, and
the once stubborn flies
left, no tombstone. 

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 Type 2.  He became deaf by the age of 4, night-blind by the age of 12, and now has very little usable vision.  Writing poetry has been a creative outlet for him since the age of 18.

(Every so often, I like to re-post one of my favorite pieces submitted to Vision Through Words.  We have been lucky to have so many talented writers contribute t the blog.  Thank you!)

Spring

14 May

by Rox’E Homstad

Spring time in New Orleans. Fresh strawberries and that Strawberry
Abita beer I love so much. Flowers and shrubs blooming everywhere.
Those nasty stinging caterpillars dropping out of nowhere to leave you
with a souvenir of their passing which will last for days. This time
of year is the same time six years ago when I made my way out of exile
in Memphis, TN. back home after the failure of the federal levees.
There is a section of “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran which sums up my
leaving of Memphis well.
 
“Long were the days of pain I have spent within its walls, and long
were the nights of aloneness; and who can depart from his pain and his
aloneness without regret?
Too many fragments of the spirit have I scattered in these streets,
and too many are the children of my longing that walk naked among
these hills, and I cannot withdraw from them without a burden and an
ache.
It is not a garment I cast off this day, but a skin that I tear with
my own hands.”
 
On the 26th of March, I packed my worldly goods into a U-Haul and
drove back home. I was coming home to much welcome, but also to much
work.
 
I remember getting out of the car once we had arrived at my new
temporary home. The city still had that smell. It’s an undefinable
smell, mixed of equal parts decay, death, and desolation. And the
mold… we must not forget the mold.
 
That night, friends had come to help us move our things. After
unloading the truck, we trooped over to Franky and Johnny’s for some
soul food.
 
Those first few weeks were a blur. I saw clients every day with
stories of being pulled from rooftops, watching their children die,
and floating on kitchen appliances in filthy waters. I listened. I
helped where I could.
 
Things started getting quieter and quieter in my world. I couldn’t
hear the phone. I couldn’t hear my clients or coworkers. In six weeks
my hearing was gone, and I didn’t know what I would do. I was in a
city with very limited medical services. The wait to see an
audiologist is long. He is so shocked by the sudden loss, and he fears
I may have some obscure form of inner ear cancer.
 
I wait some more, finally get an MRI, and wait even longer only to find
out that I do not have obscure and deadly ear tumors. But I’m still
deaf, and navigating a city full of crime and debris which would
easily fall into the category of biohazardous totally deaf and almost
totally blind. I was more alone and afraid than I can ever remember
being.
 
The doctors tell me that it’s the mold in the city which has caused my
inner ear disease to flair up and take my hearing. It’s like a bad
country-western song. “Katrina done took my house and my hearing and
my city.” The only thing missing is a part about trains and betrayed
love.
 
People ask me if I regret coming back. If I knew what would happen to
me, would I have gone back? And my answer will always be hell yes!
Because I would rather be deaf in New Orleans than hearing and live
anywhere else.
The New Orleans native and author Poppy Z. Brite once said:
“If you belong somewhere, if a place takes you in and you take it into
yourself, you don’t desert it just because it can kill you.”
 
I have known from the very moment I first arrived here. On that gray
and rainy day nine years ago. I knew that this is where I wanted to
live for the rest of my life. I want to work here, and be in love
here, and train dogs here. When I am old, I want to sit on my porch
here, and drink whisky in my lemonade on muggy July afternoons. And I
want to die here, and I want this place to be better for me having
been a part of it. I am certainly better for it being a part of me.
 
This whole time, when I struggled every day for simple communication,
I took strength from my clients. They would tell me how I gave them
hope for the future. But what they would never know is that really, it
was the other way around.
 
And so it’s spring again– a time which makes me think about great
love, and great inspiration. It makes me think of renewal and
redemption and hope.
 
And I pass one more season under a sky of vibrant blue, sitting on my
porch drinking Strawberry Abita beer and knowing that I am truly
blessed.

 

Rox’E Homstad says she lives in a rundown house in New Orleans, sharing my life with her husband and their four dogs– all of whom are retired or working assistance dogs.  By day she is a braille and activities of daily living instructor for blind and deaf-blind adults.  She owns a small business doing dog training and herbal consultations for pets.  She loves to cook, read, and is trying to teach herself to grow plants.  Her website is http://www.pawpowercreations.com.

Pearl in Bubble Wrap

2 Jan

by Paul Hostovsky

She’s pretty deaf and pretty blind and pretty
in an octogenarian sort of way, her hair completely
white, and pulled back tight from her high smooth forehead.
If staring at the blind is rude, I must be downright
scurrilous. Scurrilous piety, this kneeling down in front of
her wheelchair, to tie her shoelace which has come untied,
then sitting back down across from her to stare
some more. Snap, snap, snap, goes the bubble wrap
in her mottled fist, her fingers thirsting after the next
and the next explosion under thumb. I can see on her face
how sensual, how satisfying this sensation is for her
whose sensations are mostly tactile now that she’s pretty
deaf and pretty blind and pretty alone here at the nursing home
where they can’t communicate with her. So they give her
the bubble wrap, lots of it, to keep her busy, happy, maybe even
joyful, bursting joy’s grape over and over, getting her
eighty-year-old ya-ya’s out in her wheelchair parked
in front of my eyes. And I can’t help wondering
how much bubble wrap she’s gone through in the days
and weeks and months she’s been here, how many miles of it
she’s consumed. She’s probably been to the moon and back
on her fingertips, dancing along the backs of these plastic
turtles, leaping across these disappearing stones, these rivers
of bubble wrap, oceans of bubble wrap. “Pearl!” I shout
into her good ear, the one with the cochlear implant. “I have
to get going now!” She looks up vaguely, pauses briefly from
the pursuit of more pleasure in her lap. I give her a kiss
and head for the elevator. Once inside, I push the Lobby button
several times before it lights up. Then I worry the Braille beside it
with my index finger, all the long way down to the street.

 

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 .

Quotation of the Week

22 Aug

Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.

Mark Twain quotes (American Humorist, Writer and Lecturer. 18351910  (Quote taken from http://thinkexist.com/quotes/with/keyword/blind/)

Creative Person of the Week

19 Aug

Helen Keller – (1880 – 1968) – Helen Adams Keller (June 27, 1880 – June 1, 1968) was an American author, activist and lecturer. She was the first deaf/blind person to graduate from college. She was not born blind and deaf; it was not until nineteen months of age that she came down with an illness described by doctors as “an acute congestion of the stomach and the brain”, which could have possibly been scarlet fever or meningitis. The illness did not last for a particularly long time, but it left her deaf and blind. Keller went on to become a world-famous speaker and author. She is remembered as an advocate for people with disabilities amid numerous other causes.

Read more: http://www.disabled-world.com/artman/publish/famous-blind.shtml#ixzz1VCgyH4J1

The Copper Bowl

13 Jul

by Mani G. Iyer

If it weren’t for the stumps
of his hands,
occasionally swatting those
irritable flies, and
the copper bowl
in the center
of his squatted presence,
you could easily mistake him, for
a heap of dead human flesh. 
The creased bowl was always filled
with the grace of
humane beings, and
he acknowledged them
with a twitch of a smile,
perhaps painful,
due to unrelenting nerves, and
his hands, that failed to meet,
raised in gratitude. 
You could never see his legs
beyond the cracked bowl, for
he had none, and
you wondered how
he conducted life’s daily rituals
on a roller board, and
appear like clockwork
for years, at the same
latitude and longitude. 
Nobody knows what became of him
when his abode of the street corner
near a temple,
was disinfected, and
there was no sign
of his defiance, nor
his  life-sustaining bowl, and
the once stubborn flies
left, no tombstone. 

 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 Type 2.  He became deaf by the age of 4, night-blind by the age of 12, and now has very little usable vision.  He has written poetry since the age of 18.