Nondisabled Demands

It’s not fair. You owe it to the reader.
We’re trying to help. We have an uncle
with a disability and he always says

exactly what it is. Take it from him.
Take it from us. Take it from them.
You can’t expect people to read you

if you don’t come out and say it.
Everyone knows the default mode
of a poem is ten fingers, ten toes

with sight and hearing and balance.
When this is not true, it is incumbent
on you to come out and say it.

Here’s what. We’ll rope you
to the podium and ask
What do you have? What is it?


Copyright © 2018 by Jillian Weise. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 9, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

"This poem comes from real advice and performance art. Someone told me I had to come out and state my disability in every poem I write. This made me wonder: Who does poetry serve? What is poetry’s idea of itself? To dodge those questions, I began performing as Tipsy Tullivan across social media. She is a nondisabled writer from Asswallascallacauga, Alabama. She doesn’t write poetry, but she’s likely in the collective 'we' of this poem."

—Jillian Weise